By: R. Emily Martin
Although not a presidential election year, 2018 has been a big year for politics. Earlier this month, voters across America went to the polls and participated in the 2018 Midterm Elections. Citizens of Athens voted in twenty different categories, ranging from governor to state superintendent to four amendments and two statewide questions. Now, a few weeks after Election Day, most of the results are in!
The biggest race on the ballot, for the statewide office of Governor, has been a particularly contentious race between former Secretary of State Brian Kemp and former Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. After a particularly close race, Brian Kemp was elected with 50.22% of the vote. An election this close serves as a strong reminder of why every single vote matters.
As governor, Brian Kemp will be the highest-ranked official in Georgia and will have the power to sign or veto bills sent from the Georgia General Assembly, call for special legislative sessions, deliver a State of the State address and appoint people to judicial seats around the state. During his campaign, Kemp highlighted a 4 Point Plan to put Georgians First, which includes making Georgia the #1 state for small business, reforming the state government, strengthening rural Georgia, and a plan to put Georgia first.
After the governor race, the next biggest race in Georgia was for the Office of Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. The Lieutenant Governor serves as the President of the Georgia Senate and would be next in line to serve as Governor should the current elected Governor be unable to fulfill the role. Earlier this month, Georgia voters elected Republican candidate Geoff Duncan to the office. Geoff Duncan ran his campaign on promises of strengthening the economy by creating more jobs for Georgians, limiting government involvement in the education system, taking on Planned Parenthood and dismantling government programs deemed inefficient.
Brad Raffensperger and John Barrow defeated third-party candidate Smythe DuVal in the Georgia Secretary of State election, but neither candidate reached the 50% threshold of votes required to win. This election is heading for a run-off, and Georgia voters will elect their new Secretary of State on December 4th. This time around, DuVal will not be on the ballot and voters must choose between Republican candidate Brad Raffensperger and Democratic candidate John Barrow. Whoever wins will be tasked with various responsibilities including supervising elections and maintaining public records.
Athens voters were able to participate in three other statewide elections, too. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture incumbent Gary Black defeated Democratic challenger Fred Swann. As Commissioner of Agriculture, Black is the head of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. For Insurance Commissioner, Jim Bleck narrowly defeated Janice Laws and Donnie Foster, securing 50.4% of the vote and narrowly avoiding a run-off election. Bleck will serve as the head the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, and will be responsible for regulating the insurance industry and ensuring fire safety within Georgia. Finally, Republican incumbent Mark Butler beat Democratic challenger Richard Keatley for the office of labor commissioner and will get to continue his job of implementing Georgia’s labor regulations, operating our unemployment insurance and producing research on the Georgia labor market.
On a more local level, Athens voters turned out to choose their representative for the United States House of Representative. Jody Hice, the incumbent for Georgia’s 10thdistrict, defeated Tabitha Johnson-Green by the largest margin seen so far, of 63-37. For the 46thSenate district race, incumbent Bill Cowsert likewise defeated his challenger, Marisue Hilliard, by a significant margin of 61-39. And finally, incumbent Spencer Frye ran opposed in the Georgia House of Representatives 118thdistrict and will continue to serve the area of Athens for another two-year term!
Voter turnout in the state of Georgia increased from 50% in the 2014’s mid-term to almost 61% this year. In Athens-Clarke County, approximately 43,000 ballots were cast and around 2,000 of those were from early voters – and voters will have a chance to hit the polls again on December 4thto elect their Secretary of State. With so many major elections this close, it’s easy to see how every single vote matters.