Bad night for Trump: Kemp, Raffensperger win GA primaries, Brooks in Ala Senate runoff: live updates

·21 min read

It was a night of bad news for Donald Trump: key politicians – Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger in Georgia and Mo Brooke in Alabama – he had snubbed or actively opposed won important victories Tuesday in what could be a sign the former president's grip on the party is loosening further.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp fended off a challenge by David Perdue in the Republican primary, crushing the Trump-backed candidate by a roughly 3-1 margin in a race that pitted some of the party's biggest names against each other.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another Trump irritant seeking reelection, clobbered Congressman Jody Hice to win the GOP nomination.

Georgia Democrats voted as expected Tuesday, nominating Stacey Abrams for governor and renominating Sen. Raphael Warnock. Warnock will face former football star Herschel Walker, who easily won the race for Republican nomination after getting the backing of former President Donald Trump.

ATLANTA, Ga. - MAY 24: Republican gubernatorial candidate Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during his primary night election party at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame on May 24, 2022 in Atlanta.
ATLANTA, Ga. - MAY 24: Republican gubernatorial candidate Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during his primary night election party at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame on May 24, 2022 in Atlanta.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., was also able to overcome a snub by Trump by making it to a run-off election in the Alabama Senate race.

Trump had initially endorsed Brooks but later revoked his support following Brooks' falling poll numbers and comments he made indicating he would not revisit 2020 election that Trump claims – without evidence – Biden stole.

In Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders — once Trump's White House press secretary — is running to helm the state of Arkansas as governor, a role her father once held. Her opponent in the state's Republican primary is former radio talk show host Francis "Doc" Washburn.

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Raffensperger wins GA secretary of state primary, avoids runoff

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger survived former President Donald Trump’s wrath to win the GOP nomination for the state’s chief election officer, according to ABC and NBC.

Raffensperger is expected to clear the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff against Rep. Jody Hice, who was recruited by Trump to run in the primary.

The former president made it a personal mission to throw Raffensperger from office after the incumbent rejected Trump’s demands to find more votes to overturn the 2020 election results.

Hice, who often repeated Trump’s "Big Lie" about a stolen election in Georgia and other states Biden won, jousted with Raffensperger over the election results for much of the campaign.

— Phillip M. Bailey 

Mo Brooks survives Donald Trump snub, makes runoff in Alabama

Alabama business leader Katie Boyd Britt is headed to a runoff for a U.S. Senate seat against U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who survived an un-endorsement from ex-President Donald Trump.

Britt, the former head of the Business Council of Alabama, led the field, but did not win the 50% of the vote needed to claim the nomination outright; Brooks came in second to qualify for the runoff.

Mike Durant, an aerospace company owner and former military pilot who was involved in the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident in Somalia, was in third place.

Trump at one time endorsed Brooks but withdrew his support after the congressman told supporters it was time to move past protests of the 2020 presidential election.

The candidates are vying to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Britt once worked as Shelby's chief of staff.

The Republican nominee will be favored to win the fall election in GOP-leaning Alabama.

- David Jackson

Democrat Marcus Flowers to face off against Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Georgia Democrat Marcus Flowers and right-wing firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., will go toe-to-toe this fall for the House seat representing Georgia’s 14th Congressional District.

Flowers has raised more than $8 million in his bid to unseat the polarizing Congresswoman, some of which came from out-of-state donors who just don’t like Greene. Flowers faced a small business owner, Hollie McCormack, and a former Rome city commissioner, Wendy Davis, in the district’s Democratic primary.

Hours before the Associated Press called the race in Flowers’ favor, he deemed himself the primary winner, writing on Twitter “on November 8th, I will unseat Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

- Ella Lee, Associated Press

Incumbent v. incumbent: Rep. Lucy McBath bests Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux

Georgia Democratic Rep. Lucy defeated incumbent Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the high-profile primary race for the 7th congressional district.

Republican-led redistricting changed McBath's 6th congressional district to make it less Democratic. In response McBath ran in the 7th district.

Rep. Lucy McBath D-Ga., speaks during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, at Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.
Rep. Lucy McBath D-Ga., speaks during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, at Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

The pitting of two incumbents against each other means the Democratic party will likely lose one seat in Georgia, giving Republicans an even greater chance of retaking Congress in November and stymieing President Joe Biden's agenda.

--Mabinty Quarshie

Brian Kemp says his win was 'built from the grassroots up'

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp took the low key approach in his victory speech, saying little about Donald Trump and David Perdue while thanking his supporters for a big triumph over both of them.

"Team Kemp has always been built from the grassroots up," Kemp said to cheering supporters who chanted "four more years" during a victory party at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Kemp mentioned Perdue by name only once, thanking his challenger for the "nice phone call" he made to concede the primary and express support.

The governor did not mention Trump's name at all.

Instead, Kemp spent most of his time attacking another politician: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who will face Kemp in November after narrowly losing to him four years ago.

This time around, Kemp said Abrams is only interested in being governor so that she can run for president down the line.

"Georgia will never be on Stacey's mind," Kemp said.

– David Jackson

Georgia voters cast their ballots to the right, to the right, to the right, the right, the right….

Georgia voters awaiting election results took to the dance floor Tuesday night, when the DJ played the “Cupid Shuffle” and “The Wobble.”

Volunteers with the New Georgia Project, a non-partisan civic engagement group, spent Tuesday monitoring polls and helping Georgians cast their votes. But once polls closed the party began.

On the Dem side: How Stacey Abrams and Georgia have changed since her last run for governor

Drinks, food and dancing were the theme of the election party at the Terminus 330 event space in Atlanta.

- Mabinty Quarshie and Ella Lee

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former Trump WH press secretary, wins Arkansas gubernatorial primary

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, once Trump’s White House press secretary, won the Republican primary in the Arkansas governor’s race.

Her father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, previously held the role for a decade.

Sanders’ campaign has been somewhat unique; she has intentionally taken aim at the “radical left” and placed her state’s issues in the context of the country’s issues.

“As I travel around the state, I keep hearing this criticism, ‘Oh, there’s that Sarah Sanders, nationalizing the race,’” she once said. “And my answer to those people is, ‘You bet I am.’ Because if you’re not paying attention to what is happening in this country, you’re missing what is going on.”

Sanders will face Democrat Chris Jones, who won the Democratic primary.

- Ella Lee, Associated Press

Ken Paxton wins Texas attorney general GOP primary runoff

Embattled incumbent Ken Paxton won the Texas GOP attorney general primary runoff against Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a scion of the Bush family dynasty.

Paxton defeated Bush despite the legal controversies the attorney general is facing, which include charges of securities fraud and a separate FBI investigation.

The attorney general consistently led Bush in the polls leading up to Tuesday’s runoff.

– Mabinty Quarshie 

Marjorie Taylor Greene wins primary reelection bid

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose penchant for conspiracy theories and fiery social media posts made her a far-right fan favorite, won her renomination bid to represent Georgia’s 14th Congressional District for another two years.

But the Georgia congresswoman almost didn’t get to run at all.

A group of Georgia voters sought to disqualify Greene from running for office, citing her purported ties to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and calling them violation of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause. Greene loudly disputed those charges and said during a hearing about her eligibility that she had "no knowledge" of any attempt to unlawfully interfere with the electoral process.

The claims were dismissed by Georgia’s secretary of state and an administrative law judge.

Greene will likely face Democrat Marcus Flowers in the state’s midterm election, who is currently leading his primary.

- Ella Lee

Kemp camp hopeful GOP will unite against Abrams

As Kemp backers started to celebrate, they expressed confidence - or at least hope - that the Georgia Republicans (and Trump) would come together in the fall to defeat Abrams.

Mark Hamilton, 66, an Atlanta resident and a former aide to Kemp, said he and other Republicans like and respect Trump, but "at the same time, Gov, Kemp is our governor, and we support him."

Kemp backers said they weren't sure if Trump would now endorse him, but they expect at least Perdue to work for the governor's re-election.

No one will out-work Brian Kemp, let's put it that way," said Terry Rogers, 68, a political consultant from Clarksville, Ga.

The Uvalde, Texas school massacre put a damper on the festivities. Erick Erickson, the conservative radio talk show host, addressed the crowd and led them in prayer for the victims of the elementary school shooting. The Kemp supporters also observed a minute of silence.

- David Jackson

Democrats confident Abrams can beat Kemp in November

Stephanie Jackson Ali, policy director for New Georgia Project Action Fund, said she is confident Democrat Stacey Abrams will defeat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the general election.

“I think she just needs to tell the truth about all the many ways that Brian Kemp has not served our state and our community,” said Ali.

2021 Ripple of Hope award recipient Stacey Abrams speaks at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on Dec. 9.
2021 Ripple of Hope award recipient Stacey Abrams speaks at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on Dec. 9.

Ali pointed to the Peach State’s high maternity mortality rates as one reason why Abrams will win in the gubernatorial election.

“I think Brian Kemp's record speaks for itself. And Stacey Abrams ain’t gotta do nothing but point to it,” Ali said. “And Georgians will make their decision for what works best for them.”

– Mabinty Quarshie

Party crossing in the primary

AVONDALE ESTATES, Ga. – With tight primary races on the Republican side, some Democrats outside Avondale Estates City Hall said they voted in the Republican primary.

Ann Kruger, a psychology professor at Georgia State University, said she voted in the GOP contest to register her opposition to the former president.

“I came to vote in the party that is not my affiliation to vote against Trump-endorsed candidates,” Kruger said.

Georgia is an open primary state, meaning that people can cast a ballot in either party’s nomination contest. Typically, Kruger said she votes for Democrats.

Fellow Georgia State University Professor Deirdre Oakley said she also considered voting in the Republican primary despite being a Democrat. But when it came time to cast a vote, Oakley stuck with the Democratic candidate.

“I just couldn’t do that when I walked in there,” Oakley said.

– Caty Buchaniec and Julia Shapero, Medill News Service

Trump-backed Herschel Walker, former football star, wins primary race

Former football celebrity Herschel Walker will challenge incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock to serve as one of Georgia’s two senators after winning his primary race Tuesday.

Walker, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, beat out five other Republican challengers to be the state’s GOP nominee for one of its Senate seats.

More: Who is Herschel Walker? The former football star is running for Senate in Georgia as a Republican.

Warnock was Georgia’s first Black Senator, and Walker is also Black. Though Georgia will have another African American Senator no matter which candidate wins, Warnock and Walker have vastly different views of what it means to be Black in America. While Warnock has been outspoken on racial issues, Walker has downplayed the effects of racism in America.

The contest between Walker and Warnock could be tight, with RealClearPolitics’ latest polling data between the pair placing Walker a half point ahead of incumbent Warnock. But claims of stalking and abuse by Walker’s past partners and other women could upend his bid for office in the coming months.

- Ella Lee 

Sen. Raphael Warnock renominated by Democrats

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock easily won his primary race in Georgia as he seeks to seize his first full term in office.

The Atlanta minister, who serves as pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, became the Peach State's first Black senator when he defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler in a special election runoff in 2021.

Warnock is likely to face former football star Herschel Walker, a Republican, who has the support of former President Donald Trump and establishment GOP lawmakers.

- Phillip M. Bailey

Abrams wins Democratic nomination for Georgia governor

Stacey Abrams will once again be the Democratic nominee for Georgia governor after sailing through the primary contest unopposed.

Abrams lost the 2018 contest for governor against Republican Brian Kemp by less than 2% and refused to concede in the ensuing months, citing voter suppression.

Four years later, Abrams has become a rising star in the Democratic Party nationally as a voice for voting rights. She has led massive registration drives that many have credited with making Georgia a battleground state.

In 2020, Abrams was rumored to be on the short list of President Joe Biden's potential running mates.

She was also heavily recruited to run for U.S. Senate but bypassed after citing her renewed passion to oppose election law changes being pushed in Republican-controlled state legislatures.

If elected in November, Abrams would be the Peach State’s first Black governor.

– Phillip M. Bailey

Georgia polls close, Abrams wins, other results still pending

Polls across the state of Georgia, where a number of closely watched primary races are underway, closed Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

But the votes aren’t all counted yet, and most races haven’t been called. So far, only Democrat Stacey Abrams’ primary bid for governor has been called in her favor. She will face either Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp or former Sen. David Perdue, who is backed by former President Donald Trump. Kemp is favored to win.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s primary race is also underway, along with the Senate contest between incumbent Rep. Raphael Warnock and football star Herschel Walker.

- Ella Lee

Texas candidates react to elementary school shooting that killed 15

Political candidates in runoff races across Texas shared condolences online Tuesday evening after a gunman killed 14 children and one teacher at an elementary school in south Texas. It's the state’s deadliest school shooting.

“This is a devastating tragedy. How many more mass shootings do children have to experience before we say enough?” Jessica Cisneros, who is running for Congress in Texas’ 28th Congressional District, wrote on Twitter.

Live updates: 14 students, 1 teacher killed in Texas elementary school shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott says

Candidates across several races — including Attorney General Ken Paxton, Rep. Henry Cueller and George P. Bush — asked for prayers for peace and strength for Uvalde, where the shooting took place, and the families of the victims.

“I ask you all of you to join me in praying for our fellow Texans impacted by the horrific shooting in Uvalde today,” Paxton tweeted. “Lord, our refuge and strength, we pray for the souls of those lost, those who were wounded, their families, and our brave first responders.”

- Ella Lee

Runoff primary races in Texas

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar is up against Jessica Cisneros in the primary runoff in South Texas.

Cisneros has campaigned against Cuellar for his anti-abortion stance amid the Supreme Court draft opinion leak earlier this month indicating the court will overturn Roe v. Wade. Cuellar is the only Democrat in the House who opposes abortion rights.

Some leaders in the Democratic Party, including House Majority Whip James Clyburn and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are supporting Cuellar, to the ire of abortion supporters in the party.

Meanwhile, in a statewide office, George P. Bush, a Texas Land Commissioner as well as nephew and grand-nephew of former presidents Bush, is an underdog running against Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Paxton faces charges of securities fraud and a separate FBI investigation, and is also under investigation by the state over his failed attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Yet he is still doing well despite these challenges, according to the polls.

– Merdie Nzanga, Mabinty Quarshie, David Jackson

Paper ballots briefly used after isolated malfunction in Dekalb County precinct

AVONDALE ESTATES, Ga. – Election workers briefly switched over to using paper ballots early in the day after a machine malfunction at one precinct in DeKalb County.

Sean Kennedy said he tried to vote at a polling station at Avondale Estates City Hall, but after seeing the line created by the outage, he opted to return later in the day.

“They were doing paper ballots, but I had to go to work,” Kennedy said. “My wife already voted, so I feel bad if I chicken out and don’t do it.”

Pence versus Trump?: Mike Pence says he could run for president in 2024 even if Trump also runs

Erik Burton, a county elections spokesperson, said that the incident was isolated. Election workers followed protocols before returning to regular voting, Burton said.

The polling location had a line of about 24 people at about 6:30 p.m. EDT. Voters leaving the location place wait times in the 15 to 25 minutes range.

– Catherine Buchaniec, Medill News Service

Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, who lost son to gun violence, calls Texas shooting 'sickening'

Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., called the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas a “sickening, preventable tragedy.”

“Again in America, more families will now be forced to live forever with the pain of losing their precious children to unspeakable, senseless gun violence in a place where they should have been safe, happy, and free,” said McBath, whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in 2012.

Because of redistricting, McBath is running for Georgia’s 7th congressional seat against another incumbent: Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux. Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, has endorsed McBath in the primary race.

“At a time when this nation is still reeling from the pain of recent shootings, we are faced with another sickening, preventable tragedy in Texas,” she added.

“We have to do something to fix this. We can do something to help fix this. We must do something to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them," she said.

- Mabinty Quarshie

Don't 'sleep on midterm elections'

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. – As voters trickled into Stockbridge First United Methodist Church on Tuesday for the primary elections, 37-year-old Farrah Clark said she hopes people don’t “sleep on midterm elections.”

“It’s very important for us to show up, just as we would do in the presidential race because this is how we get those laws that would benefit us,” Clark, a teacher from Henry County, said. “It’s choosing those right senators to represent us.”

lark said she turned out to vote for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in part because of their healthcare policies. Clark — whose father has diabetes and other health issues where the cost of medication is particularly high — said she liked the two Democratic candidates’ plans to expand Medicaid.

– Julia Shapero, Medill News Service

Who is Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is expected to win the GOP primary, making her the odds-on favorite to win the red state in November and replace Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The former Trump press secretary is running against Francis "Doc" Washburn in the contest.

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she is running for governor of Arkansas.
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she is running for governor of Arkansas.

State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was also in the race, but dropped out, as did Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin.

Sanders was the first formal endorsement from Trump after he left office.

Trump described her as a "warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct."

– Mabinty Quarshie, David Jackson

Flood of early voting in Georgia could mean short lines on election day

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — After witnessing record turnout during early voting, some Georgia voters said they anticipated short wait times at the polls on Election Day.

“I figured with the way things were going with so many people voting early that it will probably be less crowded today,” said Phil Gilbert. “I walked right in – only person there.”

Georgia saw historic turnout during the state’s early voting voting period. More than 850,000 voters cast a ballot in person or returned an absentee ballot before Election Day, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

– Catherine Buchaniec, Medill News Service

Donald Trump's take on David Perdue's potential loss: Not much comment

Donald Trump dealt with the prospect of an endorsed candidate's loss the best way he knows how: By refusing to talk in detail about it.

Trump declined to discuss the probability that David Perdue will lose the Georgia gubernatorial primary to incumbent Republican Brian Kemp, preferring to discuss his more successful candidates during an interview Tuesday with Fox Business Network.

Republican candidate for Georgia governor and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue speaks in Dunwoody, Ga. on Monday, May 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Sudhin S. Thanawala) ORG XMIT: GAST102
Republican candidate for Georgia governor and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue speaks in Dunwoody, Ga. on Monday, May 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Sudhin S. Thanawala) ORG XMIT: GAST102

"We've won just about every race," Trump said, citing endorsed Republican Senate nominees J.D. Vance in Ohio and Ted Budd in North Carolina in particularly. He also cited Herschel Walker, who will likely win a Senate primary in Georgia on Tuesday.

Perdue?

"David Perdue's a very good man," Trump said. "And, as you know, Brian Kemp did a very poor job on election integrity ... And we'll see what that means to the voters."

- David Jackson  

Georgia’s Senate Race Draws Support for Warnock

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. – As voters head to the polls Tuesday, the race for one of Georgia’s Senate seats remains at the forefront of the state’s highly anticipated primary election.

In January 2021, Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock helped Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate after winning runoffs. But Warnock's seat is on the ballot again this year because he was elected to fill the remaining two years of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson' term.

U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock votes Friday, May 6, 2022 in Atlanta, Ga., during early primary voting. (AP Photo/Ben Gray) ORG XMIT: GABG108
U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock votes Friday, May 6, 2022 in Atlanta, Ga., during early primary voting. (AP Photo/Ben Gray) ORG XMIT: GABG108

In Henry County, Tinecia Cullen said she turned out to vote to cast a ballot for Warnock and help Democrats maintain control of the Senate.

“I think he’s helping,” Cullen said. “ I feel like he really cares about what I really care about.”

Cullen said she identifies with Warnock’s background. She was born and raised in Atlanta and has been to the church where Warnock preaches.

“I worry about the laws that are going to be passed if we don’t have representation,” she said.

– Catherine Buchaniec, Medill News Service

Alabama votes for federal, state offices

Alabama voters go to the polls Tuesday to select nominees for a host of state and local offices, including governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, the Alabama Supreme Court, and the Public Service Commission. Primaries will also be held for U.S. House seats, the State Board of Education, and the Alabama Legislature. There will also be local races around the state.

The U.S. Senate race, to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, is among the highest-profile races. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks got – and then lost – former President Donald Trump's endorsement for that spot.

More: Yes, American voter demographics are changing. No, that’s not what Replacement Theory is

Polls will open until 7 p.m. A voter who is in line to vote when polls close will be able to cast a ballot.

A candidate will needs 50% or more of the vote to avoid a runoff. If no single candidate in a race gets a majority, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June 21 runoff.

– Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser

When do the polls close?

First polls will close in Georgia at 7 p.m. the only state voting Tuesday in Eastern Time.

Texas polls close at 7 p.m. local time, with the state covering both Central and Mountain Time. Alabama polls also close at 7, and Arkansas ends voting at 7:30 pm, with both states in Central Time.

– Merdie Nzanga

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Primary results in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas: live updates

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