The May 22, 2018 American primary night is headlined by the 2018 Georgia primary, which sees a number of candidates running to replace the outgoing governor, Republican Nathan Deal.
Voters also head to the polls elsewhere in the South: Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas, the latter of which is for runoff elections only. Here’s your look at what to expect on Tuesday.
2018 Georgia Primary
Governor Nathan Deal (R) is prohibited from running for re-election. Georgia used to be a state that never elected Republican governors, and yet, whomever wins the GOP primary on Tuesday will be the favorite. Before 2003, the Republicans hadn’t had a governor of the Peach State since Reconstruction, and now, they’ve held the governor’s seat for almost 16 years.
Since we don’t want to mislead anyone, let’s address this: if no candidate gets a majority of the popular vote, there will be a runoff on July 24. With how crowded the field is, you can expect a runoff.
The presumed favorite for the GOP is Casey Cagle, the state’s lieutenant governor. He has come in first place in all public opinion polling this year; some polls had him in the 40s, which gets him close to an outright win, but not close enough. Hoping to stop him, among others, are Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State, Hunter Hill, a former state senator, and Michael Williams, a current state senator. In total, seven Republicans are running for Deal’s open seat.
There will be no runoff for the Democrats, as it’s a two-Stacey race. Two ex-state representatives, both named Stacey, are running, but one has a decided edge. That is Stacey Abrams, former state House minority leader, who holds a big lead in the primary over another former state legislator, Stacey Evans. Theoretical matchups show Abrams is competitive with Cagle in the general election.
On the US House side of the 2018 Georgia Primary, one name you will not see in the Democratic primary is Jon Ossoff. He is not running for GA-06 against Rep. Karen Handel (R), the latter of whom beat Ossoff in one of the most notable, nationalized special elections in recent memory. Democrats did, however, draw four candidates, including Bobby Kaple, former personality on CBS 46 TV.
2018 Arkansas Primary
Republicans hold all of the state constitutional offices in Arkansas, and all are holding elections in 2018. Mind you, like Georgia, Arkansas is another runoff state if no candidate gets a majority. The thing is, none of the statewide races have more than two candidates per party, so no runoffs here.
The GOP also holds all four US House seats in the Natural State. Only one of those primary races is more hotly contested, being AR-02. In this district, centered around Little Rock, four Democrats are running to face Rep. French Hill (R) in November.
More notably, there are four state legislative elections in Arkansas to fill open seats. Three Senate districts, 8, 16, and 29, as well as House District 83, will elect new members. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers, so none of them will affect the bottom line.
2018 Kentucky Primary
Kentucky has primaries in all six of its US House seats. Only a few of the state’s representatives face challenges from within their own parties.
The biggest race to watch is KY-06, a district centered on Lexington. Rep. Andy Barr (R) runs for re-election, but the Democrats have a dense field of challengers. Among the frontrunners is Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington.
Of course, there are also elections on the local level. Expect to hear about the clerk’s race in Rowan County, Kentucky. One may recall a few years ago that the county clerk, Kim Davis, refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. She gained national fame for her stance, and switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party. Now, there is a four-person Democratic primary to face her, and one of those candidates is David Ermold. Ermold was denied a marriage license to his husband by Davis, and he later filed suit against her. Should he prevail in Tuesday’s primary, there is no question this will be the hottest county clerk race in the United States.
2018 Texas Runoffs
Many Texas general elections for the Fall are set, but on Runoff Tuesday, a few linger. Of them is the governor’s race on the Democratic side; Lupe Valdez faces Andrew White for the chance to face Gov. Greg Abbott (R). This is not setting up the same high-profile general election from 2014, when Wendy Davis (D) got national attention during her run.
Meanwhile, the winner of the TX-02 Republican runoff will be the favorite in November. This is between Kevin Roberts, a state representative, and Dan Crenshaw. Voters in TX-27 will have two races on which to focus: the runoff for the full term, and the upcoming special election on June 30.