Qualifying for the 2016 elections has ended with a flurry of last minute candidates who think they have a chance to win either their primary or in November. We have Republicans qualifying in normally Democratic districts, and many challengers hoping to defeat incumbents in a primary. One wonders if the success of outsider candidates has anything to do with it, and whether the success of Donald Trump inspired Democrats to challenge what could be weak GOP turnout, or Republicans to think they could successfully challenge the establishment.
The senate seat held by Johnny Isakson now has seven candidates as Mary Kay Bacallao qualified as the second GOP challenger. Baccallao ran a failed race for State School Superintendent two years ago, and one has to wonder if her goal in qualifying was to give her a chance to talk about her opposition to Common Core during the upcoming Atlanta Press Club debate.
Two more qualified for the open third district seat now held by Lynn Westmoreland, bringing the total to eight. All are Republicans except for one Democrat. Qualifiers today are educator Rod Thomas and US Air Force Master Sgt. Samuel Anders. Both are from Newnan. Hank Johnson of the 4th District has a GOP challenger, Victor Armendariz of Chamblee. In the 8th District, Austin Scott got a primary opponent in addition to a Democrat who will challenge the winner in November. Business owner Angela Hicks jumped into the race today. Barry Loudermilk’s 11th District has five Republicans and one Democrat as GOPer Billy Davis of Kennesaw entered the race, Breathing much easier this afternoon are the 1st District’s Buddy Carter, the 10th District’s Jody Hice, and the 13th District’s David Scott, none of whom drew a challenger.
District 109’s Dale Rutledge, the Republican incumbent running in McDonough District 109, is being challenged by Jane Rutledge, a Democrat. Oddly enough, the two are cousins. He is probably not going to use all those Vote Rutledge bumper stickers and signs he has stored away from last time.
Here’s a recap of some of the state level races:
- Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert is being challenged in the primary by Patricia Daugherty, a retired educator. An upset of Cowsert, while highly unlikely, would show the Trump effect is in full flower in Georgia.
- Freshman Forsyth County Senator Michael Williams picked up a election Democratic opponent in Daniel Blackman. A Democratic win in the FoCo, while highly unlikely, would signal big problems ahead in 2018.
- Another freshman, Democrat, Elena Parent, will have Republican opposition from Kenneth Quarterman in November. If this seat, formerly held by Jason Carter, turns red, while highly unlikely, it would signal big problems ahead in turning Georgia purple.
- Senator Curt Thompson picked up a primary challenger in Arthur Bumburyak.
- In the 8th District, Senator Ellis Black drew general election opposition with Gregory Williams.
- In the race to replace Tommie Williams, Republican Kevin “Bald Eagle” Parker qualified, joining two other Republicans.
- Tony Phillips will challenge Donzella James in the primary. Both are Democrats.
- Tyler Hollifield, who qualified in the wrong senate district on Thursday returned to the Capitol today to qualify in the 47th District occupied by Frank Ginn.
- In North Fulton’s 56th District, John Albers picked up two Democratic opponents today, Akhtar Sadiq and Patrick Thompson.
- DeWayne Hill will primary the 3rd House district’s Tom Weldon.
- Stephen Allison’s District 8 now has five Republicans running to replace him. The latest is Jesse Jorgensen.
- Acworth’s Ed Setzler has Democratic opposition for his District 35 House seat. He will be challenged by Mickey Johns.
- Sam Teasley also has a Democrat running against him in November, Bill Bolton.
- Chairman Sharon Cooper of Marietta will have Republican primary opposition from Peter Minetos.
- Chairman Joe Wilkinson of Sandy Springs picked up a pair of primary opponents. Deborah Silcox and Graham McDonald will challenge him in May.
- On the Democratic side, Able Mable Thomas has two new primary opponents as well. Markkeith DeJesus and Melodii Peoples will challenge her in May.
- A half dozen Democrats are in the race for the open seat held by LeDawn Jones. Added today was Larry Perkins, Jr.
- With Virgil Fludd’s late retirement announcement, two more Democrats qualified to replace him today, Kathy Adams, and Terry Williamson join Derrick Jackson for the open seat.
- Lisa Inagawa joins the race to replace Matt Ramsey, and will face two other Republicans.
- Mario Driver becomes the third Republican to challenge John Yates in Griffin.
- There are now three Republicans in the race to defeat Taylor Bennett in Brookhaven, with Alan Cole signing up to meet Catherine Bernard and Meagan Hanson.
- No one was going to let Vernon Jones walk away with the 91st House race. Carl Anuszczyk, Charles Hill, Rhonda Taylor and David Neville are all going for the Democratic primary.
- Brett Harrell of Snellville picks up a challenger in the Republican primary. We’ve heard that Reynold Mason is no relation to former Gwinnett Commissioner and developer Wayne Mason.
- Nikki Randall made a late retirement announcement, and her open seat now has three people running, including today’s qualifier, community activist Frank Austin, Jr..
- Ed Rynders of Albany faces Mary Egler in a primary.
- Jeff Jones of St. Simons will face Steve Reighard in the general election.
As usual, you can see all the qualifiers here. And for any legislators reading this, I know of at least one party who would like to see qualifying reduced from 5 days to three.