6/9 Primary Preview

Georgia, Nevada, and South Carolina



David Scott (i) vs. Michael Owens vs. Jannquell Peters vs. Keisha Waites

David Scott has been one of the worst Democrats in the House for a while, but he’s lucked out of facing a credible primary challenger since 2008. This year he garnered three challengers who, on paper, seemed like potential threats: Michael Owens, former chair of the Cobb County Democratic Party; Jannquell Peters, former mayor of the suburban city of East Point; and Keisha Waites, a former state representative who nearly won the Fulton County Council Commission Chair race in 2018.

But all three campaigns failed to launch, and together they’ve raised less than $70,000. Of the three, Owens is the most progressive, but Waites probably has the most name recognition, and will probably finish the best behind Scott. The chances of Scott getting dragged under 50% and into a runoff by a combination of these three challengers is minute, but would be justification for an immediate all-hands-on-deck unification behind that challenger.

Fulton County DA

Paul Howard (i) vs. Fani Willis vs. Christian Wise-Smith

Incumbent Paul Howard is your traditionally punitive longtime prosecutor (with some bonus ethical problems and sexual harassment allegations.) Fulton County, home to most of Atlanta and some of its suburbs, is a solidly Democratic county that can do far better. Howard has two challengers: former Fulton ADA Fani Willis, and another former Fulton ADA, Christian Wise-Smith. Willis has the endorsement of Atlanta’s police union, so you absolutely should not vote for her if you live in Fulton County, nor should you vote for Howard, who is still quite bad. Wise-Smith is the only candidate credibly running on a reform platform, including ending cash bail, declining to prosecute marijuana possession, and diverting other drug possession cases to treatment programs rather than prison.

This race has flown under the radar, especially for a jurisdiction of Fulton County’s size; we frankly have no clue how to handicap it. Fundraising is little help; all three candidates have raised credible amounts of money as of the last reporting deadline ($55,000 for Wise-Smith, $69,000 for Howard, $146,000 for Willis), but none have such an advantage that it’s an obvious differentiator. Root for Wise-Smith, expect anything.

Clarke County Sheriff

Ira Edwards (i) vs. John Q. Williams

Ira Edwards has been sheriff for decades. He had to be pressured into ending cooperation with ICE, and his office was the target of an audit revealing staff shortages and poor morale. His challenger, local cop John Q. Williams, is better, refusing to take contributions from bail bondsmen, supporting the end of cash bail, reducing the cost of prison purchases and phone calls, and not cooperating with ICE unless required by law. Clarke County is coterminous with the city of Athens, home to the University of Georgia; it is safely Democratic and can do better than Edwards. Williams is the one to root for.


Mesha Mainor vs. Josh McNair vs. Darryl Terry II

This open race has a pretty good option: Josh McNair, a gay civic activist, and a decidedly bad one: Darryl Terry, running a clearly moderate campaign. Mesha Mainor hasn’t expounded on her policy too much as far as we can tell, but does have a social media presence that suggests good things.


Stacey Evans vs. Kyle Lamont vs. Orianna Sanders vs. Jenne’ Shepherd vs. Alex Wan

The first priority here is preventing the return of moderate 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans. Well—return to the state house, not return to this district specifically; this district is miles away from the suburban district she held before running for governor. Atlanta City Councilor Alex Wan seems like the most likely candidate to win, but Jenne’ Shepherd, a universal healthcare supporter running on a shoestring budget, would be the best to see win.


Renitta Shannon (i) vs. Harmel Codi

Harmel Codi is running on hiring more cops and “limiting government waste,” the latter of which is usually code for cutting vital government programs. Renitta Shannon is one of the most progressive members of the Georgia House. The choice is easy.


Michele Henson (i) vs. Zulma Lopez (vs. LaDena Bolton vs. Joscelyn O’Neil)

Michele Henson has represented this suburban Atlanta district for 30 years, and it’s on roughly its fourth iteration, barely resembling the one she won in 1990. While Henson has tried to move left with her district, it seems like she’s grown pretty disconnected and institutionalist, and in the last three primary elections has had mediocre showings against perennial candidate Joseclyn O’Neil. Zulma Lopez, an immigration attorney, is her main competition.


Jorge Granados vs. Marvin Lim

Incumbent Brenda Lopez Romero is leaving this seat behind to run for Congress in the Republican-held 7th congressional district. The race to succeed her is between two candidates: Jorge Granados, treasurer of the Gwinnett County Young Democrats and an aide to Lopez Romero, and Marvin Lim, a civil rights attorney. Lim has the endorsement of virtually every progressive group imaginable, from the Georgia AFL-CIO to Our Revolution, and he has a decent platform (though nothing special); Granados seems like a blank slate, and we’re not fans of that (particularly when there’s also an affiliation with existing official Democratic Party organizations, especially Young Dems organizations, which churn out various brands of Pete Buttigieg.)


Mack Jackson (i) vs. Daniel Thomas Jr.

Daniel Thomas Jr. is possibly the (maybe former, maybe current) city manager of the small town of Davisboro, located in this rural, Black-majority district south and west of Augusta, but we have no idea for sure, because he has no online footprint and his first and last names are each quite common. We know next to nothing about him. Whoever he is, he’s better than the incumbent, Mack Jackson, by default, because Jackson was the lone Democrat to vote for Georgia’s heartbeat bill, which banned most abortions in the state. Jackson will likely coast, but maybe a miracle will happen.


CaMia Hopson vs. Henry Mathis

HD-153 has historically been an extremely volatile seat. Despite being 63% black, a white representative held this seat until 2014, when she lost her primary to another white Democrat, conservative ex-Republican Darrel Ealum, in a race mostly about Hopson’s ethics concerns. Ealum survived a 2016 primary but lost in 2018 to CaMia Hopson, a fairly liberal black representative, who is now being challenged by Henry Mathis, who ran for mayor of Albany in 2019 and narrowly missed the runoff. In a certain sense we’re curious how many incumbents can get primaried out of one seat, but Mathis’s entire pitch is bipartisanship, so Hopson is the better choice here.


Derek Mallow vs. Mac Sims vs. Marc Smith vs. Matthew Swanson vs. Anne Westbrook 

We’ve got a crowded race here. Of the five, Marc Smith is a literal cop, so he’s out immediately. Matthew Swanson has picked up a few local political endorsements, but doesn’t have much money. Meanwhile Derek Mallow, who is endorsed by the outgoing incumbent, is running a low-fuss campaign and is probably the frontrunner. Mac Sims, a who launched his campaign before the incumbent retired, gives us serious Buttigieg vibes, but he seems pretty good on policy, and Anne Westbrook, a gun control advocate, seems like she has her head in the right place, but as white candidates in a majority black district, they’re both in tough spots should it come to a runoff.



Richard Carrillo vs. Roberta Lange vs. Ellen Spiegel

What a wild one. Carrillo and Spiegel are both state reps, but the endorsements of Nevada kingmaker Harry Reid and the powerful culinary union - a combination that generally signifies that the Reid machine, a towering force in Nevada politics, is behind a candidate - have gone to neither. The Reid machine candidate is instead backing Lange. This very weird dynamic is a result of Spiegel’s status as a rare Nevada politician who faced down the Reid machine and won. The result is an election which is less about ideology and more about the power balance in Democratic politics. While Reid can generally move heaven and Earth in these elections, and we would never bet against him, coronavirus has thrown everything out of whack, and Spiegel’s head start in name recognition might be enough to tip this race in her favor.

Carrillo probably jumped into this race hoping for Reid’s support against Spiegel, and didn’t get it. He’s probably headed for a distant third.

South Carolina


Mike Fanning (i) vs. MaryGail Douglas

MaryGail Douglas was a fairly conservative, pro-gun, anti-choice state representative from a rural district. The district was majority black and Douglas, who is white, lost her 2018 primary to a black challenger. We normally wouldn’t be rooting for her against an incumbent who is fairly ideologically middle of the road as far as Democrats go, but Mike Fanning is a walking argument against himself being sent back to the senate. Shortly after his 2016 election, accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced, and in office he supported a sheriff under federal indictment and then his wife during her suspension from her duties as magistrate, because she was overseeing cases her husband had been bringing forward. It’s unclear how much these controversies will hurt him, but we hope it’s enough to lose reelection over.


Brad Hutto (i) vs. Michael Addison

Brad Hutto has been around for 24 years, and is something of a leader in the state party. Normally we wouldn’t think that he’d be too likely to lose to an underfunded local doctor, but Hutto is allegedly worried about Addison, who has held a series of innovative coronavirus testing/campaign events. Hutto, who has not faced primary opposition since 1996, is another white representative in a majority black district, and race could play a role in this election.


Lucas Atkinson (i) vs. Miko Pickett

Atkinson is a conservative white incumbent in a Black-majority district, which instantly makes him vulnerable to a challenge. He supports abortion restrictions and has a B from the NRA—in other words, he’s the kind of rural, white Blue Dog that has mostly died out in the modern era. Those rural, white Blue Dogs generally represented rural, white districts—not Black-majority ones. Challenger Miko Pickett, a Black woman and local nonprofit director who serves as vice-chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, is likely preferable here.


Jimmy Bales (i) vs. Jermaine Johnson

One of the oldest, most traditional, and longest tenured members of the state house is being challenged by a young Yang campaign chair who has been endorsed by Bakari Sellers. Do you have an idea of the race that entails in your head? You’re probably about right - Johnson is unashamedly tying his campaign to UBI, but without being weird about it like some of the Yang orbit was. Bales has historically not been strong in primaries, so this is probably the best chance Yang world has to get one of their own elected. That was never our priority, but it would be an improvement on the status quo.


Justin Bamberg (i) vs. Evert Comer Jr.

State Rep. Justin Bamberg is getting challenged from the right by Rev. Evert Comer Jr., a Bamberg County Councilman. While Rep. Bamberg (not to be confused with the county, which is in his district) should be a strong favorite, it’s still worth watching this race. (Bernie Sanders has endorsed Bamberg, who has been a prominent supporter of his and a young progressive voice in a state that doesn’t have very many of them.


Wendell Gilliard (i) vs. Regina Duggins

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard is, like Bamberg, a progressive incumbent with a Bernie endorsement. Regina Duggins is the founder of Charleston Black Pride, a Black-focused LGBTQ organization in Charleston; unfortunately, her platform and her responses to the Charleston City Paper’s candidate questionnaire are very vague. We’re inclined to stick with Gilliard, whose candidate questionnaire responses are more specific and indicate good priorities on criminal justice, housing, and education.

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