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Former federal official Johnson and ex-Trump aide Jack win Georgia GOP nominations for US House

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Republicans settled two congressional nominations in Tuesday runoffs, with a former federal official defeating a man who was convicted for illegally demonstrating inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan.
FILE - Georgia Republican Wayne Johnson speaks during a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club with Republican Chuck Hand on Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Atlanta. Both candidates are competing in a Tuesday, June 18, 2024, runoff for the GOP nomination in southwest Georgia's 2nd Congressional District. (J. Glenn/Pool via AP, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Republicans settled two congressional nominations in Tuesday runoffs, with a former federal official defeating a man who was convicted for illegally demonstrating inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and an ex-aide to Donald Trump winning in a race for an open seat in another district.

Meanwhile Democrats chose their candidate to run against Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in the November general election.

The two parties were also picking nominees in eight state legislative runoffs where no one won a majority in the May 21 primaries.

Here's a look at the races:

2nd District

Former U.S. Education Department official Wayne Johnson beat convicted Jan. 6 offender Chuck Hand for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.

“I think that people are looking for solutions,” Johnson told The Associated Press by phone afterward. “They’re looking for people that can bring some experience to bear. And I think I was successful in communicating that I’m a solutions-focused person.”

Johnson will challenge 16-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop in the district, which sprawls across 30 counties in southwest Georgia, stretching into Columbus and Macon. The district has delivered comfortable Democratic majorities in recent years.

Johnson is promising closer attention to the area's needs, including its military bases. He said voters believe Bishop hasn't done enough to improve economic conditions in a region that includes some of the state's poorest counties.

“It’s not that they feel he’s responsible,” Johnson said. “They just don’t feel like he’s done anything consequential to lift it up or to propel it forward.”

Johnson was the top vote-getter in the four-way May 21 primary, but the second-place finisher Hand drew notice after criticizing Johnson and then walking out of a televised debate.

Hand, a construction superintendent, was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor offense in connection with the Capitol riot. He is one of at least five people convicted of Jan. 6 crimes who have run for Congress this year as Republicans, three of whom have lost primaries so far.

Hand campaigned on rallying Black and white working-class voters under Trump’s banner to improve the economy. When asked for comment Tuesday, Hand responded by text: “To be continued ...”

3rd District

Former Trump aide Brian Jack beat former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan for the Republican nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.

Jack will be favored against Democrat Maura Keller in November to succeed Republican U.S. Rep Drew Ferguson, who is stepping down after four terms.

A 36-year-old Peachtree City native, Jack was endorsed by Trump after working in his campaign and administration. He later worked for then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Jack based his campaign on his alignment with the former president, and using his Washington connections to raise funds.

“The power of the Trump endorsement is alive and well,” Jack told the AP by phone “I would not be a Republican nominee were it not for President Trump’s endorsement, his repeated endorsements.”

Jack promised to campaign heavily through November, in part to try to drive up turnout for Trump, and he touted his experience and connections as a way accomplish goals in Congress, including extending tax cuts and cracking down on immigration.

“I think it provides me with a unique opportunity to be incredibly effective on Day 1 and be incredibly responsive to the constituents of my district,” Jack said.

Dugan contended that Jack’s Washington insider status was a liability, saying voters should instead prefer his Georgia values.

“While tonight didn't go the way we'd hoped, we're grateful for the support that brought us this far,” Dugan said in a statement. “We wish Brian Jack well.”

Jack won almost 47% of the vote in the May 21 primary and was first in 14 of 15 counties. Dugan got nearly 25% and carried his home county of Carroll. The third- and fourth-place finishers both endorsed Jack.

The 3rd District includes some of Atlanta’s southern and western suburbs, running south to Columbus, with Republicans typically winning about two-thirds of the vote.

Other races

In the Democratic contest to challenge Greene in the 14th District, Shawn Harris, a retired Army general and rancher, bested Clarence Blalock, a 2021 Atlanta City Council candidate. Blalock barely led Harris in the four-way primary. Harris faces an uphill fight in the strongly Republican district.

Nominees in eight state legislative seats were being settled in runoffs.

Republican incumbent Steven Sainz beat challenger Glenn Cook to hold on to his House District 180 seat in Camden and Glynn counties. Sainz will face Democrat Defonsio Daniels in November.

Military veteran and Democratic activist Kenya Wicks beat former state Rep. Valencia Stovall for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 34 in Clayton and Fayette counties after party organizations endorsed Wicks, citing Stovall's past support for school choice and other issues. Wicks will face Republican Andrew Honeycutt for the open seat.

Jeff Amy, The Associated Press