Republican Brian Kemp declared victory last week in his bid to replace Governor Nathan Deal as Georgia’s 83rd governor. Kemp avoided a runoff against Democrat Stacey Abrams by securing 50.33 percent of the vote amid record-breaking voter turnout of 61 percent for the midterm election. Abrams has not conceded the race. Absentee, provisional, and military ballots are still being counted. Kemp resigned as secretary of state last week to allow an interim appointee to certify the results of the election. Kemp has named campaign manager Tim Fleming chief of staff and former chief of staff David Dove to lead the transition team. Assuming the results stand, Kemp will likely govern Georgia in a similar fashion as Deal, with an emphasis on economic development, job growth, and fiscal conservatism.
Republicans were elected to all statewide offices, including lieutenant governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, insurance commissioner, state school superintendent, labor commissioner, and public service commissioner from District 5. Runoff elections are scheduled for December 4 for secretary of state and public service commissioner from District 3.
Republicans will maintain control of the 155th General Assembly when they convene January 14, 2019. This year, 23 state Senate seats and 69 state House seats were contested. Democrats flipped 14 seats in the House and Republicans flipped 3 seats, for a net Democratic gain of 11 seats in the House. Republicans maintain control of the House by a margin of 105-75. Democrats flipped two seats in the Senate, but Republicans maintain control of the Senate by a margin of 35-21.
There will be a total of 39 new lawmakers when the legislature convenes for regular session in January 2019. Additionally, at least nine committee chairmanships will be open, which is especially significant when you consider Georgia does not have term limits.
Special elections will be held on December 4 for two house seats. One was vacated because of judicial appointment, and a judge ordered a new election after voters received the wrong ballot in the other.
Governor Deal called for a special session to convene Tuesday, November 13, 2018. The legislature will consider disaster relief funds for southwest Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Michael and whether to extend certain jet fuel tax exemptions for airline carriers.
Georgia voters adopted five constitutional amendments and two referendums. The questions included stewardship trust funds, statewide business courts, conservation grants, crime victims’ rights, allowing school districts to call county sales tax referendums, municipal property tax exemptions, and applying tax exemptions for nonprofit housing for the mentally disabled to business-financed property.
For more information, please contact me or your regular Parker Poe Consulting contact. You can also use the following links to find election takeaways for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C.
*Chuck is a consultant, not a practicing lawyer, and does not provide legal services.