Election delayed

The May 19 primary election has been postponed until Tuesday, June 9, due to health and safety concerns over coronavirus.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made the announcement last Thursday.

The move came after Gov. Brian Kemp extended the state’s public health emergency status another month to May 13.

“This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins, and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials and poll workers,” Raffensperger said in a statement Thursday.

Early voting for the primary now starts May 18. Voter registration will end May 11.

Absentee ballot applications have been mailed to all Pierce County voters and voters statewide. Requests for mail-in ballots that have already been sent in will still be valid to receive an absentee ballot for the June 9 election.

Board of Elections supervisor Leah Ritch says active voters who do not receive an application should call the office at 449-2028.

“The state mailed applications to the voters’ registered physical address,” she said.

The June 9 primary is poised to be the first statewide test of Georgia’s new voting machines, which include touchscreen machines and scanners officials have hailed as a secure, paper-based voting process.

The June 9 primary election will feature the presidential preference primary originally set for March 24 and the state and local primary contests initially scheduled for May 19.

The four contested county races will be on the ballot in the new June 9 general and non-partisan primary election.

The marquee race will be the election for Sheriff. Incumbent Ramsey Bennett will be running for a third term. He is being challenged by Major Robby Boatright of the Blackshear Police Department, Retired Department of Natural Resources Ranger Gary Simmons and retired state trooper Greg Stone. All are running as Republicans.

In the only other county-wide race, voters will have three choices for coroner.

Incumbent William Wilson qualified to run for a third term. He is being challenged by  Bill Cselle, former deputy coroner, county commissioner and school board member, and Mandy Alvey Smith, a registered nurse. All three are running as Republicans.

Voters in district one will have a choice for both their county commission and school board race. District one includes the Hacklebarney/Cason areas.

Incumbent Harold Rozier Jr. will face a challenge from retired GBI agent Weyland Yeomans for the Republican nomination. The winner of that race will face Democrat Tyrone Harris in the November general election. Harris, a longtime  contractor, is the first Democrat to qualify for local office in Pierce County since 2010.

There will be a three-way race for the district one school board seat.

Realtor Kirby Malone, counselor Thomansine McGauley Ricks and retired law enforcement officer Steve Whitehead signed up to run for the post. Current district one representative Jack Saussy announced prior to qualifying he would not run for another term. The school board is non-partisan.

A number of incumbents  are all running unopposed and will be sworn in to new terms in January 2021. They include  Clerk of Court Thomas W. Sauls, Tax Commissioner Terresa Davis, Surveyor Stephen Duncan, Magistrate Judge Glenda Dowling and Probate Judge Moye Howard. Sauls will begin his sixth term and Davis and Duncan their third terms in January. Dowling was first elected to fill an unexpired term in 1989 and has been re-elected seven times. Howard is currently completing his second term. Sauls, Davis and Duncan are Republicans. The Magistrate and Probate Judge positions are non-partisan.

In district three, county commissioner Randy Dixon  and school board member Chip Griner are both running unopposed. Dixon has served for 14 years. He was first elected in a special election in 2006 and has won re-election three times.  Griner will begin serving his second term in January. Dixon is a Republican. School board seats are non-partisan.

District three includes the Otter Creek and St. Johns Blackshear areas.

Pierce County voters will have a say in the races for U.S. Congress for district one and one of the two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs.

First district Congressman Buddy Carter of Pooler will face two challengers in the Republican primary.

Veteran and businessman Danny Merritt and Savannah resident Ken Yasger both qualified to run against Carter in the Republican primary. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in November. Democrats running include Veteran Joyce Marie Griggs, Educator and 2018 nominee Lisa Ring, and Waycross resident Barbara Seidman.

Senator David Perdue qualified to seek re-election and will be unopposed for the Republican nomination. He will face the winner of the Democratic primary. Candidates for the Democratic nomination include former Lt. Governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico, healthcare professional Marckeith DeJesus, veteran James Knox, journalist Tricia Carpenter McCracken, journalist and former Congressional candidate John Ossoff, lawyer Maya Dillard Smith and former Columbus Mayor and attorney Teresa Tomlinson. Shane Hazel qualified as a Libertarian.

Two seats on the state public service commission will also be up for election. In the northern district, incumbent Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald is unopposed for his party’s nomination. He will face the winner of the Democratic nomination among business manager Daniel Blackman and business owner John Noel. In the southern district, Incumbent Jason Shaw of Lakeland will run unopposed for the Republican nomination. He will face Democrat and Savannah resident Robert G. Bryant in the November general election.

Statewide, two seats on the Georgia Supreme Court will be contested.

Justice Charlie Bethel will face a challenge from Elizabeth “Beth” Beskin, an Atlanta attorney. Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren will face off against Hal Moroz, a deputy district attorney.

Court of appeals judges Carla McMillian, Elizabeth Dallas Gobeil, Sara Doyle, David Todd Markle, Trenton “Trent” Brown III and Christian Coomer are all running unopposed and will be sworn in to new terms in January 2021.

State Representative Steven Meeks (R-Screven) and State Senator Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) are both unopposed and will be sworn in to new terms in January.

In judicial races, both superior court judges up for election, Judge Kelly Brooks and Judge Andy Spivey, are running unopposed. Both will begin new terms in January.

Incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler will run in the general election in November. She was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to fill the remainder of Senator Johnny Isakson’s term. Isakson resigned last year due to health reasons.

Since it is a special election, all candidates will run in a jungle primary meaning that all candidates run for the office together, regardless of party. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote plus one, a run-off will be held  Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

In addition to Loeffler, Republicans running include Congressman Doug Collins, Lithonia resident Derrick E. Grayson, Businesswoman Annette Jackson of Lilburn, Macon businessman A. Wayne Johnson and Baxley educator Kandiss Taylor.

Democrats running include Lithonia attorney Deborah Jackson, veteran Jamesia James, Tucker resident Tamara Johnson Shealey,  Matt Lieberman, son of former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, physician Joy Slade, former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver,  Raphael Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Athens professor Richard Dien Winfield. White Plains resident Brian Slowinski is running as a Libertarian. Independent candidates include business consultant Al Bartell, attorney Allen Buckley, Mableton resident Michael Todd Greene and business owner Valencia Stovall. Green candidate is John “Green” Fortuin of Athens and write-in candidate is  Rod Mack of Hapeville.

Incumbent President Donald J. Trump is running unopposed for the Republican nomination in Georgia.

There are 12 candidates listed on the Democratic ballot, but 11 have withdrawn leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Nominees for the Republican and Democratic parties will then face off in the November general election.  

The general election will be Tuesday, November 3, with a run-off, if necessary, for state, local and federal offices Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

Beau Evans of the Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.