While the biennial election for all 180 House and 56 Senate seats in the Georgia General Assembly is not scheduled until next year, voters in seven House and two Senate districts will have a chance to elect new representation in a slate of special elections in November 2017.
Nearly half of the special elections, and counting, can be considered the ripple effect of the statewide elections set to take place in November 2018. Likewise, two of the special elections can be attributed to legislators seeking local leadership positions in the November 2017 municipal elections. Under Georgia law, sitting statewide officers and legislators are prohibited from accepting campaign contributions during the legislative session. With four senators, two representatives and two constitutional officers also throwing their hat in the ring for higher statewide office in 2018, there’s a chance the list of resignations and special elections could expand as Jan. 8 grows near.
No special primaries will be held for these races, so the elections that take place Nov. 7, 2017, will include all qualified candidates from all party affiliations. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, then the top two vote-getters in each contest will move on to a special election runoff Dec. 5, 2017.
Senate District 6
In September, Hunter Hill, a two-term state senator, resigned his seat to focus on his campaign to be Georgia’s next governor. Among those vying to replace the gubernatorial candidate are five Republicans and three Democrats. On the Democratic side are pediatric dentist Jaha Howard, who lost a close race to Hill in the 2016 general election, and attorney Jen Jordan and activist Taos Wynn. On the Republican side are attorneys Leah Aldridge and Matt Bentley, businesswoman Kathy Eichenblatt, commercial real estate agent Charlie Fiveash, and the former director of voter engagement for the state Republican Party, Leo Smith.
Senate District 6 covers portions of Cobb and Fulton counties, including most of Smyrna and parts of Atlanta, Marietta and Sandy Springs.
Senate District 39
For the first time in 20 years, voters in the 39th Senate District will elect a new state senator. Vincent Fort, a 10-term senator first elected in 1996, resigned his seat in August to join a crowded field of candidates seeking to become the next mayor of Atlanta. When voters in Atlanta go to the polls Nov. 7 to choose Fort’s replacement from among four Democrats and one Republican, they’ll also have a chance to choose the next mayor of the state’s capital city from a baker’s dozen of candidates. Among the Democratic contenders is former city of Atlanta employee Elijah Tutt, former legislative aide Linda Pritchett, former House candidate Marckeith DeJesus, and the state Democratic Party vice chair and vice president for Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Nikema Williams. The lone Republican candidate vying to replace the mayor is commercial real estate broker Nick Carlson.
Senate District 39 covers a portion of Fulton County, which includes a majority of East Point and parts of Atlanta, College Park, Union City and the newly incorporated city of South Fulton.
House District 4
Voters in House District 4 will return to the polls for a second time in 2017 to select new representation at the Georgia Capitol. After a special election in January to replace senator-turned-judge Charlie Bethel, voters in this House District will return to the polls in November to replace Rep. Bruce Broadrick, who resigned in September citing health reasons. Vying to finish out the term of the fourth-term representative are three Republicans and one Democrat. The Republicans in this race include local Republican activist Beau Patton, local business owner Kasey Carpenter, and the vice president of one of the area’s many carpet-related businesses, Eddie Caldwell. On the Democratic side is political newcomer Peter Pociask.
House District 4 covers a portion of Whitfield County, including most of the city of Dalton.
House District 26
Midway through his fourth term in the Georgia House of Representatives, Geoff Duncan resigned his House District 26 seat to focus on his campaign as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018. Voters in this north-metro district will choose from a slate of two Republicans and one Democrat to serve as Duncan’s replacement. On the Republican side are Marc Morris, the president and founder of IT consulting firm The Talmadge Group, and political writer and former Democrat Tina Trent. The lone Democrat in the race is retail manager Steve Smith.
House District 26 covers a portion of Forsyth County, including part of the city of Cumming.
House District 42
The race to replace Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans proves to be the easiest among November’s special elections. The lone candidate to replace the fourth-term representative is political consultant and former Smyrna City Council member Teri Anulewicz, who is also a Democrat.
House District 42 covers a portion of Cobb County, which includes parts of Marietta and Smyrna.
House District 60
The trickle-down effect of November’s local election will send voters in the 60th House District to the polls to vote for a replacement for Rep. Keisha Waites. Waites, who herself was elected via a 2012 special election, resigned her seat to run for president of the Fulton County Commission, following the resignation of Commission President John Eaves to run for Atlanta mayor. Vying to replace the third-term Democrat are three Democratic candidates: education advocate De’Andre Pickett, healthcare advocate Kim Schofield, and former Forest Park council member and Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams.
House District 60 covers portions of Clayton and Fulton counties, including parts of Atlanta, College Park, East Point and Forest Park. This district is also home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
House District 89
Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams became the first of 2018’s gubernatorial candidates to resign from the Georgia General Assembly. The seventh-term representative resigned her seat in August to focus on her campaign to become the Democratic candidate for Georgia’s next governor. Vying to replace Abrams are four Democratic candidates, some of whom had a head start after previously announcing they would run for the House District 89 seat in the 2018 general election. Three attorneys enter the race, including David Abbott, Monique Kane and Sachin Varghese. Varghese, who is a cancer survivor, has received the endorsement of many high-profile Democrats including former Gov. Roy Barnes, former Democratic candidate for governor Jason Carter, and U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson. Also running to replace Abrams is nonprofit director Bee Nguyen. Nguyen previously served as campaign manager and chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Sam Park, who defeated a three-term Republican incumbent in 2016.
House District 89 covers a portion of DeKalb County, which includes parts of Atlanta.
House District 117
Republican Regina Quick, a third-term representative, resigned her seat in the Georgia House in August in anticipation of her appointment as judge of the Superior Court of the Western Judicial Circuit. Vying to replace former Rep. Quick are Republican Houston Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez. Gaines, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia (UGA), previously served as UGA student government president and as campaign director for current Athens Mayor Nancy Denson. Gonzalez is a longtime attorney and advocate whose husband is a professor at UGA.
House District 117 covers a portion of Barrow, Clarke, Jackson and Oconee counties, including parts of Athens and all of Bogart.
House District 119
In August, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Republican Rep. Chuck Williams to lead the state’s Forestry Commission. Williams, a fourth-term representative, was elected in a 2011 special election to replace former Rep. Hank Huckaby, who was appointed chancellor of the University System of Georgia. Vying to replace Williams, who faced no general election opponents during his House tenure, are three Republicans and one Democrat. Among the Republicans are local funeral home owner Tom Lord, project manager Marcus Wiedower, and U.S. Army veteran and telecommunications professional Steven Strickland. The lone Democrat in the race is software developer Jonathan Wallace.
House District 119 covers a portion of Clarke and Oconee counties, including parts of Athens and all of Watkinsville.