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2022 Midterm Election

Runoff Recap: How Black Candidates Fared in These Key Races

Abrams-backed nominees score big victories in battles for secretary of state, lieutenant governor, and labor commissioner.

State Rep. William Boddie Jr. won his Democratic primary runoff Tuesday against Nicole Horn to become the party's nominee for Georgia labor commissioner. (Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

The results of some pivotal primary election runoff races were decided Tuesday night, setting up a slate of competitive general election matchups in November.

Several Black candidates battled in key statewide office races after making it to the post May 24 runoff stage.

Stacey Abrams’ endorsement helped propel three Democratic candidates to key primary wins. Donald Trump’s endorsement wasn’t enough to lift Vernon Jones to victory in his U.S. congressional race.

And a rising Black GOP star suffered a surprising defeat to his Republican rival. 

Here’s a breakdown of who won Tuesday’s runoff races, who lost, and why it matters.

Key Democratic Primaries

Secretary of State

Bee Nguyen scored a landslide victory over Dee Dawkins-Haigler after receiving a post-Primary Day endorsement from Abrams.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Nguyen has received 77.02% of votes cast, while Dawkins-Haigler received 22.98%. The latter forced a runoff on May 24 despite jumping into the race relatively late in March.

Why this race matters

Protecting voting rights has been a top campaign issue for Black residents, especially since the 2020 election. Republican supporters of Trump have erroneously insisted that widespread voter fraud took place in Georgia two years ago despite multiple investigations concluding the opposite.

Nguyen is now set to take on incumbent GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in November. Raffensperger will be tough to beat in the traditionally conservative Georgia general electorate after enjoying some bipartisan praise and support for not caving when Trump pressured him to “find” the votes needed to win Georgia in 2020.

But Raffensperger still has made preserving “election integrity” a central theme in his re-election bid, which has made him a target of criticism for voting rights advocates.

“As a Georgian, I know firsthand that Brad Raffensperger is not a friend to our democracy,” Nguyen tweeted Tuesday night after declaring victory over Dawkins-Haigler. “It was 95 degrees today and it’s now illegal to hand out a bottle of water to a voter waiting in line,” she added, referencing a provision in the controversial SB 202 election law.

Whoever wins this race will be in charge of managing elections at the state level for the next four years and could play a pivotal role in the next presidential election in 2024.

Lieutenant Governor

Skipping the June 6 runoff debate against Charlie Bailey appears to have cost Kwanza Hall in a major way in this race.

“Sometimes schedules just don’t permit for you to be everywhere,” Hall told Capital B Atlanta during a recent interview explaining why he didn’t attend the debate.

Hall, the former U.S. congressman and Atlanta mayoral candidate, received only 36.93% of votes cast Tuesday, compared to 63.07% cast for Bailey, an attorney.

Abrams surprised some political observers when she endorsed Bailey over Hall after the latter received the lion’s share (30.16%) of Primary Day votes on May 24 compared to Bailey’s 17.63%.

Hall said he didn’t take it personally when Abrams’ endorsed his opponent.

“Sometimes people have commitments that they’ve already made and you just have to respect that,” he said. “There are a lot of friends on all sides of this race and I know everybody, almost, involved, so I don’t take anything personal.”

Why this race matters

Hall could have become Georgia’s first-ever Black lieutenant governor if he won in November. Bailey is set to face Trump-endorsed GOP challenger Burt Jones in the fall. Whoever wins will become the state’s second in command to the governor for the next four years.

As lieutenant governor, Bailey or Jones will be in charge of overseeing debates in the state Senate chamber. The lieutenant governor also plays a key role in developing legislation and getting it passed through both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly.

Labor Commissioner

Current state Rep. William Boddie Jr. from East Point scored a victory over Nicole Horn, a former reporter and EducationDynamics executive.

Boddie secured 62.26% of the vote to Horn’s 37.74%. He’ll take on Republican state Sen. Bruce Thompson in November.

Why this race matters

Boddie would become just the second Black person to serve as Georgia’s labor commissioner if he defeats Thompson. Michael Thurmond became the first after winning an election in 1998.

Employment and wage disparities between Black and white residents have been a huge problem in Atlanta and throughout the state, particularly during the pandemic. The state labor commissioner is in charge of the Georgia Department of Labor, which enforces the state’s workforce regulations, manages its unemployment insurance and rehabilitation programs, and also generates state employee market research and statistics.

The state DOL also works with public and private sector officials to create more well-paying jobs and encourage overall economic prosperity.

Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner

Insurance professional Janice Laws Robinson won her runoff race against business owner Raphael Baker, securing 63.74% of votes to 36.26%.

Baker skipping his June 6 debate against Laws Robinson may have played a role in her sizable margin of victory. She’s set to take on incumbent GOP Insurance Commissioner John King in November.

Why this race matters

Laws Robinson would become one of only a handful of Black candidates to win statewide office races in Georgia if she wins in the fall.

Georgia’s health care system ranks 43rd in the nation when it comes to meeting the needs of citizens. In 2019, the state ranked third worst in the nation for highest number of uninsured residents.

The state also has the fourth-highest car insurance premiums in the nation. That’s a hefty financial burden for Black residents to bear at a time when gas prices are already breaking records.

This officer holder provides Georgia residents with access to insurance products and regulates building safety at the state level.

Key Republican Primaries

U.S. House District 2

This was a somewhat surprising loss for Jeremy Hunt, a Black conservative Army veteran and West Point graduate. Hunt gained national media attention after entering this race and appeared to be one of the rising stars in the Georgia GOP along with U.S. Senate nominee Herschel Walker.

Chris West secured 51.33% of votes cast Tuesday, scoring a close win over Hunt, who received 48.67%. West appears to have succeeded in labeling Hunt as a District 2 outsider during and after their contentious June 6 debate.

Why this race matters

Black people make up slightly more than half of the residents in Georgia’s 2nd U.S. Congressional District — a largely rural territory in the state’s southwest region that includes most of Macon, Columbus, and Albany.

Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, who is Black, has served the district in Congress since 1992. But Republicans last year redrew the second district to make it slightly more favorable to GOP contenders.

Republicans could retake power in the U.S. House in November. West can help his party restore its House majority if he can sway enough people to cast ballots for him over Bishop.

U.S. House District 10

This was yet another loss for a Trump-endorsed candidate in Vernon Jones, who received only 25.52% of votes cast, while Mike Collins received 74.48%.

Why this race matters

Jones’ defeat is the latest sign of Trump’s waning political influence in Georgia, even though candidates endorsed by the former president have scored notable victories in other states.

Nearly 25% of District 10 residents are Black. Jones is the Black former Democrat who switched parties last year before announcing a bid for governor. He ended his gubernatorial campaign in February after Trump asked him to drop out to improve David Perdue’s chances against Kemp. Jones ultimately opted to run for Congress in the 10th District with Trump’s coveted endorsement.

Other key race results

State House District 39 (Democrats)

Terry Cummings defeats Monica Evette Delancy

Cummings received 56.78% of votes cast. Delancy received 43.22%.

State House Rep. District 86 (Democrats)

Imani Barnes beats Jacqueline Adams

Barnes received 62.49% of votes cast. Adams received 37.51%

U.S. House District 10 (Democrats)

Tabitha Johnson-Green defeats Jessica Allison Fore

Johnson-Green earned 64.36% of votes cast. Fore received 35.64%.

Judge — Superior Court – Cobb Judicial Circuit (Flournoy)

Sonja N. Brown defeats James K. Luttrell

Brown received 63.78% of votes cast; Luttrell garnered 36.22%.