WASHINGTON — One of the last remaining anti-abortion Democrats in Congress faced his toughest major challenge yet in Tuesday’s runoff, as a staunch gun safety advocate ousted his colleague of the House during a fierce congressional primary between members in suburban Atlanta.
Meanwhile, in northwest Georgia, far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conspiratorial provocateur, won despite a handful of top GOP challengers in her Republican-leaning district.
For Republicans and Democrats, Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas pitted members of the party’s militant base against more moderate candidates. The races offer a glimpse of what the next Congress might look like.
Here are some races to follow:
The last anti-abortion House Democrat
Moderate Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar, a nine-term holder, is an ongoing target for progressives. But so far, the anti-abortion congressman has prevailed in a series of close races in the largely Hispanic district that stretches from the Rio Grande to San Antonio.
It was unclear whether his winning streak would continue early Wednesday as Cuellar was locked in a close race against Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration lawyer and abortion rights supporter who has already interned in Cuellar’s office in Washington.
The race was too early to call Wednesday morning.
The race is Cisneros’ second attempt to oust Cuellar, against whom she lost by 4 percentage points in 2020. It came within 1,000 votes of Cuellar in the Texas primary in March, forcing the second round of tuesday.
Overnight it emerged she had a new edge after a recently leaked US Supreme Court draft opinion showed the justices were set to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe ruling. v. Wade which grants a constitutional right to abortion.
Adding to Cuellar’s headwinds, the FBI earlier this year raided his home in the border town of Laredo. Although Cuellar’s lawyer said he had been exonerated, the problem was serious enough that his allies sent out direct mail advertisements with a fake newspaper headline proclaiming him “exonerated”.
The winner will face Cassy Garcia, who won the Republican runoff for the seat.
U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, speaks during a campaign event, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in San Antonio.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Jones in the Georgia Runoff
For the vast majority of Vernon Jones’ nearly three-decade political career in Georgia, he was a Democrat. But this year, the scandal-ridden politician reinvented himself as a pro-Donald Trump Republican and raced for an Open House seat that stretches from suburban Atlanta to Athens.
“Damn, they even call me the black Donald Trump!” Jones tweeted after entering the race while challenging his rivals of “Go ahead liars!”
Jones is one of the most prominent black politicians to endorse Trump and spoke at the 2020 Republican convention. He even had Trump’s endorsement. Jones will go to a June 21 runoff against Mike Collins, president of a trucking company whose father, Mac Collins, was a former Georgia congressman on Tuesday. Neither broke the 50% threshold needed to win outright.
Collins has already telegraphed that Jones’ considerable baggage will be an election issue.
As a DeKalb executive, Jones was investigated over his expensive security details, and a woman accused Jones of raping her in late 2004. She dropped the charges but did not come forward. never retracted. Jones said they had consensual sex. A grand jury later alleged that as CEO he was part of an endemic culture of “incompetence, favoritism, fraud and cronyism”.
After the 2020 census, Georgia’s Republican-dominated legislature redrew the boundaries of Democratic Representative Lucy McBath’s suburban Atlanta district, turning it into a GOP stronghold. They also redesigned another swing seat in the Atlanta area, making Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeux’s district a solid Democrat.
So McBath, a nationally known gun safety advocate, went shopping in the neighborhood — and decided to challenge first-term college professor Bourdeaux. And on Tuesday, McBath ousted his colleague-turned-rival, boosted by $4 million in ad spending by the gun safety lobby, as well as a cryptocurrency billionaire.
McBath ran on a compelling personal story. She is a black woman whose son was killed by a white man during a dispute over the stereo volume in 2012. Since first elected in 2018, McBath has made passing gun legislation fired by Congress its rallying cry.
It’s a message that gained momentum on Tuesday after an 18-year-old gunman entered a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children.
“We’re exhausted, all of us,” McBath told supporters on Tuesday night. “We are exhausted because we cannot continue to be the only country in the world where we let this happen over and over and over again.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks Thursday, April 28, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Victory for Marjorie Taylor Greene
Marjorie Taylor Greene has been a lightning rod for controversy since being elected to Congress in 2020. Barely a month into her term, she was stripped of her committee assignments after social media posts were discovered showing that she endorsed calls to assassinate prominent Democrats.
But his provocations have not diminished since then. And that’s apparently what voters in her conservative Northwest Georgia district love about her.
On Tuesday, they voted overwhelmingly to sack her for a second term, sending in a group of five GOP challengers, including a health care consultant who presented herself as a “no frills conservative” alternative.
Even before Greene was first elected, her antics enraged Democrats — and made her a rising Republican star.
In the short term, the Democrats’ decision to strip Greene of his committee assignments has reduced his influence in a chamber where hard work to legislate is what builds power and influence.
But if Republicans regain a majority in the House in November, as history suggests, she could still prevail. GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is on course to become Speaker of the House, said she won’t just claw back her committee assignments; she will probably receive a promotion.
Minnesota too early to call
When Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn died of kidney cancer in February, his widow, former Minnesota GOP chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan, said her husband’s wish was for her to succeed him and represent the south. Minnesota in Congress.
The GOP primary race didn’t go that way, with Carnahan trailing in a distant third. The Associated Press has yet to call the race.
Even before he announced his offer, Carnahan’s friendship with a GOP donor who was federally indicted for underage sex trafficking sparked a firestorm. Then a recording surfaced last year in which she said, “Jim is going to be dead in two years. So be it.” Last week she was sued by her late husband’s family as they tried to recover the money they lent her for cancer treatment, which they say she was supposed to reimburse them.
The drama, which local GOP officials likened to a “dumpster fire,” gave two other candidates a head start.
Former state legislator Brad Finstad held a slim lead over state Rep. Jeremy Munson early Wednesday. But the race was too early to call.
The winner will face former Hormel Foods executive Jeff Ettinger, who won the Democratic nomination.
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