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Politics Jon Ossoff Holds Strong Lead as Georgia Waits for Senate Primary Results

17:02  10 june  2020
17:02  10 june  2020 Source:   nytimes.com

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ATLANTA — Georgia was waiting early Wednesday for the results of primary elections riddled with serious problems, as voting machines all over the state malfunctioned and frustrated voters waited in long lines for hours.

a group of people walking down a street next to a car: Voters outside the Mary Lin and Candler Park combined precincts in Atlanta on Tuesday. © Audra Melton for The New York Times Voters outside the Mary Lin and Candler Park combined precincts in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Much of the attention was on whether Jon Ossoff, the 33-year-old Democrat who earned national headlines in 2017 with a spirited but unsuccessful congressional race in the Atlanta suburbs, would capture his party’s nomination in a race for a Senate seat.

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Early Wednesday, he was well ahead of Sarah Riggs Amico, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, but still short of the 50 percent vote threshold needed to avoid a runoff. They are facing off for the opportunity to challenge Senator David Perdue, an incumbent Republican and ally of President Trump’s.

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The general election in November, one of two Senate races in the state that are expected to be competitive and could help tip the balance of power in Congress, will almost certainly be viewed as a referendum on Trumpism. Mr. Perdue, a business executive who is seeking a second term, has highlighted his close relationship with the president, arguing that it has helped Georgia’s business climate.

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The state’s elections Tuesday were a chaotic affair, with a new state-mandated voting system plagued by serious problems. Many computerized voting machines malfunctioned early in the morning, and poll workers struggled to get them back online, resulting in hourslong waits at polling places, particularly in the heavily populated precincts in and around Atlanta.

The glitchy system reignited long-simmering concerns among Democrats that the Republican Party is intent on making voting as difficult as possible for some Georgians, particularly black voters. Gov. Brian Kemp, a former secretary of state, and the current holder of that office, Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, supported the adoption of the new voting system, despite warnings from elections experts that it was being instituted too hastily and without due consideration to potential hacking.

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Stacey Abrams, the Democrats’ 2018 nominee in the governor’s race, has accused Mr. Kemp of creating numerous impediments to voters of color, and argued long after that election that she actually won. On Tuesday, Ms. Abrams, who is African-American, called the problems at the polls “a disaster that was preventable.”

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Jon Ossoff talks to a local news affiliate while waiting to vote in Atlanta on Friday. © Audra Melton for The New York Times Jon Ossoff talks to a local news affiliate while waiting to vote in Atlanta on Friday. Since 2018, Democrats have hoped that Georgia might become a true swing state in the 2020 elections as frustration mounts over Mr. Trump’s first-term performance.

Though Mr. Ossoff lost the 2017 special election to Karen Handel, a Republican, Ms. Handel then lost the next year to Lucy McBath, a Democrat. Ms. Handel was the favorite in Tuesday’s Republican primary to try to win back that seat, facing four opponents in a district that was represented by Newt Gingrich for 20 years.

In Georgia’s Seventh District, which was once reliably Republican territory but includes an increasingly diverse section of metro Atlanta, there were contested primaries on both sides for the seat held by Representative Rob Woodall, a Republican who is not running for re-election.

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Mr. Woodall won by fewer than 500 votes in 2018, and his opponent in that race, Carolyn Bourdeaux, was again seeking the Democratic nomination. Another Democrat in the race, Nabilah Islam, was endorsed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

In South Carolina, Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from the Citadel, won the Republican congressional primary in the First District and will now face Representative Joe Cunningham, who flipped the Charleston-based seat in 2018 in a long-shot Democratic victory. Ms. Mace was far ahead of her top Republican opponent, Kathy Landing, who had been endorsed by the conservative insurgents in the House Freedom Caucus.

Rob Woodall wearing a suit and tie: Representative Rob Woodall, a Republican, is not running for re-election in Georgia’s Seventh District. © Matt Rourke/Associated Press Representative Rob Woodall, a Republican, is not running for re-election in Georgia’s Seventh District. West Virginia voters choosing a governor had competitive primaries in both parties. Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican who was elected in 2016 as a Democrat and switched parties at the behest of President Trump, handily beat back a primary challenge from Woody Thrasher, a former member of his cabinet.

Mr. Justice, the state’s richest man and the owner of the Greenbrier Resort, has faced calls to resign from fellow Republicans, federal investigations and lawsuits against his companies.

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He will face Ben Salango, a county commissioner from Charleston, who was the establishment favorite endorsed by the state’s major labor unions and Senator Joe Manchin III.

Mr. Salango defeated Stephen Smith, a nonprofit director, who ran as a progressive in the mold of Senator Bernie Sanders; Ron Stollings, a conservative Democrat who serves in the State Senate; and two other candidates.

West Virginia voters skew conservative and the state has not backed a Democrat for president since 1996, which was also the last time the state elected a Republican governor, Cecil H. Underwood.

In Nevada, Republicans were choosing challengers to Representative Susie Lee in the Third District, which Mr. Trump won by one percentage point in 2016, and Representative Steven Horsford in the Fourth District, which Hillary Clinton won by four points. Mr. Horsford was first elected in 2012, then lost re-election in 2014 before reclaiming the seat in 2018. Both could be competitive swing districts in the fall, though the Democratic incumbents start with significant advantages. Voting was to take place almost entirely by mail, but there were reports of long lines at some polling places.

“As predicted, despite the secretary of state moving Nevada’s primary to an all-mail election, many Nevada voters still participated in person,” William McCurdy II, the chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party, said in a statement. “It is imperative the state offer an adequate amount of hygienic, well-organized polling locations and we will continue fighting for these improvements to prevent a repeat in November.”

Richard Fausset reported from Atlanta, and Reid J. Epstein from Washington.

More Than 2,000 Black People Were Killed by White Mobs During Reconstruction, New Study Shows .
In the fall of 1870, Guilford Coleman, a black man, was abducted from his home in Alabama, beaten to death and thrown into a well for having voted at a political convention to nominate a Republican governor. The message was received, according to local newspaper accounts: Those in favor of Reconstruction dared “not canvass the district, lest they lose their lives.” Mr. Coleman’s murder, one of thousands carried out by white mobs after the Civil War, is documented in a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative, a 31-year-old legal advocacy group based in Montgomery, Ala., that is dedicated to exposing the country’s legacy of lynching and white supremacist terror.

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