What to watch for in today’s election in Georgia and beyond


Policy

Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas all have elections indicating views on national issues and Trump.

A Trump supporter outside a Georgia Republican campaign event in Commerce, Georgia on March 26. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

The country’s political attention shifts south on Tuesday with elections in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas signaling voters’ views on national issues and the strength of former President Donald’s approval power. Trump.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp appears to easily fend off a challenge from former Sen. David Perdue in the Republican gubernatorial primary, which would set up a rematch with Stacey Abrams, the presumptive Democratic nominee. Trump recruited Perdue to run after Kemp refused to help overturn the results of the state’s 2020 presidential election.

In Alabama, a competitive Republican primary for the Senate is unfolding after Rep. Mo Brooks lost Trump’s endorsement in the race in March. The election could head for a second round.

In Texas, voters will decide runoff races for attorney general and a House seat in the Rio Grande Valley. The race for Congress will pit Representative Henry Cuellar, an anti-abortion Democrat who is still part of an FBI investigation, against Jessica Cisneros, a progressive challenger.

Here are some of the themes we’ll be following on Tuesday:

In Georgia, Trump’s “big lie” will be tested.

Trump has placed Georgia at the center of his crusade against what he falsely claimed was a “stolen” election. But its influence on state policy seems to be fading.

Perdue, a former Kemp ally, has made challenging the 2020 election results the focus of his campaign. He opened the three debates against Kemp by falsely claiming that Trump and Trump were victims of fraud in Georgia’s presidential election and its early 2021 Senate elections.

Still, Georgia Republicans have turned to issues beyond the last election, focusing on the state’s economy, education and rising crime rates in Georgia cities. Partly because of that, Kemp has outstripped Perdue by more than 30 percentage points in recent polls and surpassed the former senator in fundraising by nearly $10 million.

The only other race in which the 2020 election — and Trump’s influence — matters so much is the contest for secretary of state. Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger fends off a primary challenge from Rep. Jody Hice, who has Trump’s backing. Polls indicate that none of the candidates garnered more than 30% of voter support, suggesting the race is likely to go to the second round.

Still, there are signs of life among Georgia voters: Turnout during the three-week early voting period topped 850,000, a sharp increase from the same period in the 2018 primary.

This week, Georgia will also kick off one of the most important Senate elections in the country, between Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat seeking re-election, and Herschel Walker, a Trump-backed Republican who is widely expected to win in his left. primary.

How will an Alabama Senate candidate fare after being dropped by Trump?

Brooks, a longtime Trump ally who has been involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, is making a last-minute push among conservative Alabamians that could propel him into a runoff.

But the race remains to be won. An Emerson College survey of Alabama voters conducted days before the primary showed Brooks was trailing two rivals: Katie Britt, a businesswoman and former chief of staff to Sen. Richard Shelby, who leads the pack , and Mike Durant, an Army veteran.

Brooks faces headwinds at home and in Washington, D.C. Trump’s decision to withdraw his endorsement in March has damaged the congressman’s reputation among the state’s Republican base.

The House committee investigating the 2021 Capitol riot has asked to question Brooks about his comments on Trump’s request to “void” the 2020 election results.

And the congressman has made an enemy of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate Minority Leader, who poured $2 million into a super PAC opposing his campaign. McConnell backs Britt for the seat.

Outside money plays a big role in this race, with all three candidates on the ballot aided by groups that spend millions criticizing opposing candidates as out of touch with Alabama voters. One group, the pro-Durant Alabama Patriots PAC, cut a TV commercial that attacks Brooks and Britt as “trash and tax-collecting insiders.” Another, the Alabama Christian Conservative Group, which supports Britt, ran negative publicity targeting Durant, claiming he was lenient on immigration and gun ownership.

“Vote Katie Britt,” says the narrator. “She is one of us.”

In a Texas House primary, could the issue of abortion prove decisive?

Cuellar is the last anti-abortion Democrat in the House of Representatives. A leaked draft opinion signaling that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn this summer Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision, could charm Cisneros for the second time in his bid to overthrow him.

The renewed fight for abortion access has underscored internal Democratic tensions as progressives line up behind Cisneros and a handful of moderates come to Cuellar’s defense. On Thursday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, endorsed Cisneros. National abortion rights groups such as Emily’s List have also provided financial support for her candidacy, reserving television ads critical of Cuellar.

Cisneros has the support of several other high-profile progressives in Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who made full-throated fundraising pitches on her behalf.

Cisneros fell short by 3.6 percentage points in her 2020 challenge to Cuellar, for whom she was previously interned. This time around, her campaign has to deal not only with her abortion record, but also with an FBI raid on her home and campaign office in February. Cuellar promised he had done nothing wrong and his attorney said that while he was cooperating with the investigation, he was not the target.

Texas’ Democratic primary for attorney general has also put abortion at its center, as both candidates cast themselves as potential abortion access advocates against their Republican opponents, who are likely to be the overwhelming frontrunners in November. .

Rochelle Garza, a civil rights lawyer, is the frontrunner in the race, having garnered more votes in the primary than the other Democrat in the running, former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski. Garza called the office “the last bulwark” to protect Texans from strict abortion laws.

Will the Texas attorney general, victim of scandals, win?

Cuellar isn’t the only candidate in Texas’ election runoff on Tuesday who has faced law enforcement scrutiny for the use of his office.

State Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted and arrested in 2015 on still-pending securities fraud charges. Former aides said he violated state law by using his office’s influence to help a donor.

But he maintained his viability in the Republican primary by pursuing a long list of conservative priorities, including championing an abortion law passed by the state last year and joining the push to criminalize transitional care. for transgender youth.

With Trump’s backing and relatively strong support from Republicans in Texas, Paxton garnered a larger share of the vote in the March primary election than his second-round opponent, George P. Bush, the state’s lands commissioner. .

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.



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