Georgia House GOP Member Targeted by Ralston Loses in Runoff

ATLANTA (AP) — One Republican incumbent Georgia state House member was pushed out of office in a Tuesday runoff after being targeted by Republican House Speaker David Ralston, while a longtime Democrat survived a challenge.

Cumming Republican Sheri Gilligan, a retired intelligence officer who had served four terms in the state House, lost to banker Carter Barrett in House District 24 in southwestern Forsyth County.

Atlanta Democrat Roger Bruce, who has served in the House for 20 years, narrowly bested Rashaun Kemp in House District 61 in southern Fulton and northeastern Douglas counties.

Gilligan was one of the most right-wing members of the House and had tangled with Ralston over multiple issues. She opposed certain portions of Ralston’s signature mental health bill this spring that were removed before the measure became law.

Ralston’s own campaign committee gave Barrett’s campaign $3,000, and a number of other high-ranking Republicans and lobbyists aligned with Ralston also gave Barrett money. Barrett loaned his own campaign $100,000, raising more than $280,000 before the runoff, a huge sum for a House primary.

Gilligan, by comparison, raised only about $40,000. She led the May 24 primary, falling fewer than 50 votes short of a majority. Barrett, though, won 59% of the vote Tuesday among an electorate about half as large as on May 24.

Barrett will face Democrat Sydney Walker in November in a strongly GOP district.

Bruce campaigned on experience, far outraising Kemp, who tried to persuade voters that the district needed a fresh face. Bruce is unopposed in November.

Gilligan is only the third legislative incumbent to lose a reelection bid during the primaries, despite redistricting forcing some members to run in unfamiliar territory.

Bonnie Rich of Suwanee lost to fellow Republican incumbent David Clark of Buford on May 24 in House District 100 in parts of Gwinnett, Hall and Forsyth counties. Rich had headed House redistricting efforts. Thus she lost a district she had drawn for herself after Clark, who had said he was stepping down, decided to run again. Clark had openly rebelled against Ralston.

Democratic incumbent Rebecca Mitchell lost to fellow Democratic incumbent Shelly Hutchinson in House District 106, after both lawmakers were drawn together in the southern Gwinnett County district.

A total of 10 state House nominations were settled Tuesday, as well as one state Senate nomination, in which banker Mike Hodges beat former state House member Jeff Jones in coastal Georgia’s Senate District 3, covering all of Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Glynn and McIntosh counties and part of Ware County.

Copyright 2022 by the Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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