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Georgia Republican Party elects candidates for Congress, including man convicted in Jan. 6 riots

ATLANTA (AP) — Republicans in the U.S. state of Georgia are deciding on two nominations for Congress in runoff elections on Tuesday: A former Donald Trump aide is running for a vacant seat, and a man convicted of an illegal demonstration at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is running in another district.

Meanwhile, Democrats will choose their candidate for the November general election against Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and the two parties will nominate their candidates for runoff elections in eight state legislatures where no one won a majority in the May 21 primaries.

Voter turnout is likely to be low, and some congressional candidates may be elected by only a tiny fraction of voters, particularly in the 2nd and 14th districts.

Here’s a look at the races:

2nd District

Republican Chuck Hand made headlines when he walked out of a televised debate. Hand is vying with Wayne Johnson to challenge the 16-term Democratic incumbent. Representative Sanford Bishop in the 2nd Congressional District, which stretches across southwest Georgia and extends to Columbus and Macon.

Johnson received almost 45% of the vote in the primary on May 21to almost 32% for hand

Hand is one of at least four people convicted of crimes related to the January 6 insurrection. who ran for Congress this year as a Republican. He was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

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Hand and Johnson agree on the key challenge: The Republican nominee must find new GOP voters after Bishop received 55% of the vote in 2022.

Hand, a construction manager who lives in rural Butler, said he is leading a labor movement to improve economic conditions in one of the poorest parts of Georgia. His goal is to unite black and white workers under Trump's banner. But Hand declined to discuss many of the issues facing Congress.

“I have no desire to play the 'This is what I would do' game. We're not there yet,” Hand told reporters after leaving the debate. “To get anywhere, we have to beat Sanford Bishop first.”

Johnson said Hand was unsuitable, saying he was an official at the U.S. Department of Education under Trump and was better suited to win over some of the Democrats who have long supported Bishop and are mostly black.

“Hand is weak and superficial when it comes to substantive issues that matter to voters, but he is a master of swagger and bluster,” Johnson said.

Michael Nixon, who came in third with 19 percent in May, supported Johnson but criticized previous criminal charges against Hand that were dropped and a previous conviction of Hand's wife for illegally selling oxycodone.

3rd District

Republican Brian Jack argued that 3rd District voters should “elect someone President Trump believes is an ally of the America First strategy.”

His opponent, former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, argues that Jack's status as a Washington insider is a disadvantage and says voters would prefer his “Georgia values” instead.

The winner will be the favorite to succeed the Republican congressman Drew Fergusonwho is stepping down after four terms in office.

Jack, 36, is a Peachtree City native who worked on Trump's 2016 campaign. He served as White House political director for four years and later worked for the then-Speaker of the House of Representatives. Kevin McCarthy.

This experience earned him the support of Trump and numerous donations from leading Republicans.

Dugan, a 60-year-old contractor and retired Army officer, boasts of his experience as a decision-maker and coalition builder. He has attacked Jack as a “DC insider.”

The 3rd District includes some of Atlanta's southern and western suburbs and extends south to Columbus. Republicans typically receive about two-thirds of the vote here.

Democrat Maura Keller expects the Republican candidate in November.

Jack received nearly 47% of the vote in May and was the front-runner in 14 of 15 counties. Dugan received nearly 25%, winning his home county of Carroll.

Both the third and fourth place finishers supported Jack.

Other races

The Democrats vying for Greene in the 14th District are Clarence Blalock, a 2021 Atlanta City Council candidate, and Shawn Harris, a retired Army general and rancher. Blalock narrowly beat Harris in the four-candidate primary. The winner faces an uphill battle in a heavily Republican district.

Nominations for eight state legislative seats will be determined in runoff elections. Republican incumbent Steven Sainz is seeking to defend his seat in the 180th House of Representatives district in Camden and Glynn counties against challenger Glenn Cook.

Anna Harden

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