It’s qualifying week for the May 22 primaries and non-partisan elections. But what is qualifying and why should it matter to you?
Qualifying: The qualifying period is often overlooked or unknown to the majority of the public, but it is the period where candidates for public office must register as a candidate and pay their qualifying fees. Qualifying started today and runs through March 9. Anyone can say they are running for office, but often a candidate who has announced a political run will drop out before qualifying either due to lack of support or because they find out another candidate they don’t want to run against is also planning to run. Candidates who qualify will be on the ballot.
What are the qualifications?: Qualifying generally means that you have paid the fee and live in the district you intend to serve. It has little to do with the candidates qualifications for office, as that is left up to the voters.
Why does it matter?: By 5 p.m. Friday when qualifying ends, we will know who is running for office. This year, Georgians will be voting for their state legislators and statewide offices including the governor and lieutenant governor. We will also be voting for our U.S. Representatives, so the May primary and November general election will determine who will make our laws next year. Also, if you’re interested in running, you have until Friday to pony up the dough and make it official.
What are those qualifying fees?: If you’d like to be a state representative or state senator, you just need $400. If you’d like to try your hand at being Governor, you’ll need $4,180.80. If you’d like to take on a sitting U.S. Representative or Senator, you’ll need $5,220.00. That’s just to get on the ballot. If you’re going to run, you’re going to need significant campaign funds to get your name out there.
What is the Primary: The primary is May 22. In a primary election, the republicans run against other republicans and democrats run against other democrats. The top democrat vote-getter will run against the top republican vote-getter. If you identify as a republican or a democrat, May 22nd is where you pick the person you think is the best candidate in your party for local office.
What is a Non-partisan election: In a non-partisan election, party affiliation is not shown on the ballot because the political party is not relevant to the position. Commonly, school board seats and city council seats are non-partisan because whether or not one identifies as a republican or a democrat isn’t important to a local office.
What to watch for: Democrats are feeling emboldened by the amount of support Hillary Clinton received in Georgia during the 2016 election, and by the support Jon Ossoff received in the Ga. 6th congressional race against Karen Handel. These two events have made democrats feel like they can make significant gains in the state and pundits expect to see more democratic candidates qualify this year. Also, Georgia will elect a new governor this year, and the field is already deep on both sides.
Who qualified: Here are some of the highlights from qualifying week according to the Secretary of State’s website as of 5 p.m. March 8:
Seven republicans are vying to become the next governor along with two democrats, both named Stacey. The republicans are Hunter Hill, Casey Cagle, Brian Kemp, Eddie Hayes, Marc Urbach, Michael Williams and Clay Tippins. The democrats are Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams.
Republicans David Shafer, Rick Jeffares and Geoff Duncan have qualified, along with democrats Triana Arnold James and Sarah Riggs Amico.
Secretary of State:
Republicans Brad Raffensperger, Buzz Brockway, Josh McKoon and David Belle Isle have qualified. John Barrow, Dee Dawkins-Haigler and Rakeim “RJ” Hadley have qualified on the democratic side. Hadley’s occupation is listed as “Wakanda Forever.”
State School Superintendent:
The big news in the state school superintendent’s race is that republican John Barge is looking to become State School Superintendent again. He has qualified to run against republican incumbent Richard Woods. Dr. Sonia Francis-Rolle has also qualified as a republican. Sid Chapman, Otha Thornton Jr. and Sam Mosteller have qualified as democrats.
U.S. 1st Congressional District: Incumbent Republican Earl “Buddy” Carter does not have a primary challenger yet, but two democratic women have qualified for the democratic primary so far. Barbara Seidman and Lisa Ring will challenge each other for the right to challenge Carter in November.
U.S. 4th Congressional District: Democrat Hank Johnson will face a primary challenger. Fellow democrat Juan Parks will make a bid to unseat Johnson. Two republicans have also qualified for the seat once held by firebrand Cynthia McKinney. The republicans are Joe Profit and Melanie Williams.
U.S. 6th Congressional District: Republican incumbent Karen Handel does not yet have a republican primary challenger, but several democrats are vying for the seat. Democrats Bobby Kaple, Kevin Abel, Lucy McBath and Steven Knight Griffin have all qualified.
U.S. 8th Congressional District: Republican incumbent Austin Scott will face a primary challenge from republican small business owner Vance Dean and republican Danny Ellyson.
U.S. 9th Congressional District: Republican incumbent Doug Collins doesn’t have a primary challenge, but two democrats will make a bid to unseat him. Dave Cooper and Josh McCall have both qualified as democrats.
U.S. 10th Congressional District: It’s hunting season on incumbent republican Jody Hice. In addition to facing 2 primary challengers, Hice also has 3 democrats vying for his seat. The republicans are Bradley Griffin and Joe Hunt. The democrats are Chalis Montogomery, Richard Dien Winfield and Tabitha Johnson-Green.
U.S. 11th Congressional District: No republican challengers for incumbent republican Barry Loudermilk, but Flynn Broady Jr. has qualified as a democrat.
U.S. 12th Congressional District: Republican Rick Allen faces a primary challenge from fellow republican Eugene Yu. The winner of that race will have to campaign against the winner of the democratic primary. Democrats qualified for the seat are: Francys Johnson, Robert Ingham and Trent Nesmith.
U.S. 13th Congressional District: Democrat David Scott doesn’t have a primary challenge, but Republicans David Callahan and Femi Akinkugbe have qualified as republicans.
District 5 State Senate: Democratic incumbent Curt Thompson faces a primary challenge from fellow democrat Sheikh Rahman.
District 16 State Senate: Republican incumbent Marty Harbin is being challenged by republican Tricia Stearns in the primary. Bill Lightle has qualified as a democrat.
District 17 State Senate: Republican incumbent Brian Strickland will face a primary challenge from republican Nelva Lee. Phyllis Hatcher has qualified as a democrat.
District 34 State Senate: Democratic incumbent Valencia Seay has a primary challenge from fellow democrat Melody Totten. Tommy Smith has qualified as a republican.
District 35 State Senate:
Democratic incumbent Donzella James will face at least two primary challengers. Fellow democrats Karen W. Ashley and Mike Glanton Jr. have qualified to run against her.
District 38 State Senate: Democrat incumbent Horacena Tate will face democrat Gabriel Lavine. Travis Klavohn has qualified as a republican.
District 40 State Senate: Republican incumbent Fran Millar doesn’t have a challenger in the primary, but two democrats are gunning for his seat. Social Worker Sally Harrell and Senior Advocate Tamara Johnson-Shealey will run against each other in the democratic primary.
District 41 State Senate: Incumbent democrat Steve Henson will face a challenge from fellow democrat Sabrina McKenzie Wright.
District 43 State Senate: Democratic incumbent Tonya Anderson will face Joel Thibodeaux in the democratic primary.
District 44 State Senate: Three democrats will face each other for District 44. Incumbent Gail Davenport, Sandra Daniels and Keith Horton have qualified.
District 56 State Senate: While republican incumbent John Albers doesn’t have any republicans running against him, a trio of democrats have qualified for his seat. Ellyn Jeager, Jim Guess Jr., and Patrick Thompson are all running in the democratic primary.
District 7 State Representative:
Incumbent David Ralston faces a primary challenge from Republican Margaret Williamson. Democrat Rick Day has also qualified.
District 8 State Representative: Republican incumbent Matt Gurtler faces a challenge from fellow republican Mickey Cummings.
District 9 State Representative: Another incumbent republican with a republican challenger; incumbent Kevin Tanner will face Mark Hajduck in the May 22 primary.
District 19 State Representative: Republican incumbent Paulette Rakestraw is under fire in Hiram. Two republicans have challenged her in the primary and two democrats are also looking to unseat her. Republicans Bryan Dobbs and Joseph Gullett will face Rakestraw in the May 22 primary. Democrats Alison Feliciano and Nigel Sims have qualified on the other side of the political spectrum.
District 24 State Representative: Sheri Smallwood Gilligan, a republican incumbent from Cumming has a primary challenge from republican nonprofit director Joanna Cloud.
District 25 State Representative: Republican incumbent Todd Jones has a primary challenge from republican Steven Grambergs. Democrat Anita Holcomb Tucker has qualified as a democrat.
District 28 State Representative: Republican incumbent Dan Gasaway has a primary challenger in Chris Erwin.
District 48 State Representative:
As expected, Incumbent republican State Rep. Betty Price faces a primary challenge from Republican and former Roswell mayor Jere Wood. Democrat Mary Robichaux, a health care consultant has also qualified.