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Newton voters to see crowded ballots as qualifying ends
Republican candidate drops bid for state Senate seat, 13 qualify for open congressional seat
2020 runoff voting
James Hendrix of Covington casts his ballot at the Washington Street Community Center voting location in 2020. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County voters from both parties will have a choice of candidates in most races on their May 24 primary election ballots.

Republicans will face Democratic nominees for most seats up for election in this year’s general election in November — an election expected to see a higher than normal turnout because of a hotly contested governor’s race.

All but one of the five incumbents in county school board and Board of Commissioners seats up for election this year will have opponents either in the May 24 primaries or November general election.

A total of eight Republicans and five Democrats qualified for the open 10th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice. The Georgia General Assembly redrew the district this year to cover about three-fourths of Newton County.

Meanwhile, a Newton County resident who qualified for a Georgia Senate seat announced he was withdrawing Friday after speaking with the incumbent in the race.

Ryan Millsap of Social Circle had qualified for the Republican primary for State Senate District 17 but his name had been removed Friday morning from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.

Millsap, owner of the new Blackhall Americana streaming service, issued a statement Friday confirming he had withdrawn from the race after an apparent meeting with incumbent District 17 State Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough. 

"After our conversation, it is my opinion that we can do more for the state together with me remaining fully focused on creating wealth and jobs for the state and for Sen. Strickland to represent the new District 17 as our community’s senator," he said. "I have every confidence that he will represent us well and my support is fully behind him."

County-level and state races that will be on Newton County ballots following the Friday qualifying deadline included:


Incumbent Commissioner Demond Mason will seek reelection in the May 24 Democratic primary but will face a challenges from a local pastor and two of his 2018 opponents for the seat representing District 2.

Steven Rhodes, Earnest L. Simmons and Dwayne Stephens will challenge Mason for the Democratic nomination May 24. 

In 2018, Simmons narrowly beat Rhodes to advance to a runoff against Mason, the eventual winner that year.

Rhodes is a technology specialist for Newton County Schools, according to his LinkedIn page. He is a former county Recreation Commission member. 

Simmons served one term as District 2 commissioner from 2006-2010 but lost a reelection bid to Lanier Sims.

Stephens is the longtime pastor of Paschal Missionary Baptist Church in Covington. 

The Democratic winner on May 24 will face Republican Donnie Bryant in the November general election.

The Georgia General Assembly reconfigured District 2 as part of its changes to Newton County’s commissioner and school board districts in response to 2020 census data. 

The district added some area from District 3 that is north of Brown Bridge Road and includes areas in the Wisteria community; and lost a section between highways 162 and 81 to District 1.


Incumbent J.C. Henderson will seek a seventh term on the Board of Commissioners but will face a challenge from Covington youth pastor Willie B. Jackson for the Democratic nomination May 24.

Henderson is a retired Covington city employee who has served on the board since 1996. Jackson is a retired mechanic and owned Jackson Automotive. 

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Scotty Scoggins in November.  Scoggins, a local businessman, ran for election to the Covington City Council in 2021 but lost to Charika Davis for West Ward Post 2.

District 4 also was reconfigured as part of the General Assembly’s changes to Newton County’s commissioner and school board districts in response to 2020 census data. 

The district now includes all of the city of Porterdale and the Springhill area along Lower River Road near the county landfill and no longer includes the city of Oxford.


Incumbent Trey Bailey, a Republican, will seek reelection to a second full term.

Bailey, who is executive pastor at Eastridge Church, was appointed by the school board in March 2016 to serve the remainder of Stan Edwards’ term after Edwards resigned to run for the Board of Commissioners District 1 seat. Bailey was elected for his first full term in November 2018.

Catalata Hardeman qualified for the Democratic nomination for the District 1 seat and will face Bailey in the November general election.


Incumbent Shakila Henderson-Baker, a Democrat, will seek reelection to a fourth term but will face a challenge from Victoria Redding in the May 24 primary.

Henderson-Baker is a mental health clinician and behavioral specialist. She is serving as board chairperson this year.


Incumbent Abigail Coggin, a Republican, will seek reelection to a fourth term.

Coggin is a former state government official and current operations director for the Arts Association in Newton County. She was first elected to the school board in 2010 and is a former board chairman.

No Democrat qualified for the District 5 seat so Coggin likely will be unopposed for re-election in the November general election.


District 92 State Rep. Doreen Carter, D-Lithonia, is the incumbent living in the district and will seek reelection to a fourth term in the House in the new District 93 seat. 

She will face a challenge in the May 24 Democratic primary from Laklieshia Izzard of Oxford.

Izzard is a mental health therapist and counselor. 

Carter, an accountant, owns a financial education company. She is a former Lithonia City Council member and was the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State in 2014. She was elected in 2015 to the District 92 House seat.

State House District 93 was created as part of the legislative redistricting and includes parts of Newton, Rockdale and south DeKalb counties.


Incumbent State Rep. Sharon Henderson, D-Covington, is a pastor and retired banker and the only Newton County resident in the General Assembly. 

She will seek reelection to a second term and will face a challenge in the Democratic primary from fellow Newton County resident Billie Boyd-Cox, a real estate agent and pastor.

The district formerly included parts of Rockdale and Newton counties but was changed to include only part of Newton County during the legislative redistricting. 


Former Newton County commissioner Tim Fleming of Covington will face Wendell McNeal, a Morgan County businessman, for the Republican nomination for the new District 114 seat May 24. 

Fleming is the former chief of staff for Gov. Brian Kemp and left the Kemp Administration in September 2020 to enter the private sector. He also served on the Newton County Board of Commissioners, representing District 5, from 2009-2013.

McNeal is a longtime businessman and served as a delegate to the 2020 Republican National Convention.

The winner will face Malcolm Adams of Oxford, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination, in the November General Election.

District 114 is comprised of all of Morgan and parts of Newton and Jasper Counties. The incumbent living in the new district, State Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, is not seeking reelection.


Incumbent State Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, will seek a third term but will face two challengers in the May 24 primary. Brett Mauldin of Madison will challenge Strickland for the Republican nomination. 

Mauldin is president of Marbleworks at Lake Oconee in Eatonton. Strickland, an attorney, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee.

The winner will face Democrat Kacy Morgan of Madison in November. Morgan is pastor of Bethel Bara Baptist Church in Union Point and an Iraq War veteran.

The district include much of Newton County and parts of Morgan, Henry and Walton counties.


Incumbent State Sen. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, will seek a fourth term in the state Senate. She will face a challenge in the May 24 primary from Conyers dentist and author Joe N. Lester. 

Anderson is a former mayor of Lithonia and former state House member who first won election to the Senate in 2016. She is chairperson of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and secretary of the Senate Special Judiciary Committee.

Lester is a longtime dentist in Rockdale County who also sought a state Senate seat in 1998 and 2000 and ran for a U.S. House seat in Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District in 2002.


Democratic Party candidates who qualified for the May 24 primary by the Friday deadline included: 

• Newton County Board of Commissioners, District 2: Demond Mason (I), Steven Rhodes, Earnest Simmons, Dwayne Stephens.

• Newton County Board of Commissioners, District 4: J.C. Henderson (I), Willie Jackson.

• Newton County School Board, District 1: Catalata Hardeman.

• Newton County School Board, District 3: Shakila Henderson-Baker (I), Victoria Redding.

Democratic state and congressional candidates who qualified by the Friday deadline included:

• State Senate District 17: Kacy Morgan, Madison.

• State Senate District 43: Tonya Anderson (I), Lithonia; Joe N. Lester, Conyers.

• State House District 93: Doreen Carter (I), Lithonia; Laklieshia Izzard, Oxford. 

• State House District 113: Billie Boyd-Cox, Covington; Sharon Henderson (I), Covington.

• State House District 114: Malcolm Adams, Oxford.

• U.S. House, District 4: Hank Johnson (I), Stonecrest.

• U.S. House, District 10: Jessica Allison Fore, Athens; Tabitha Johnson Green, Sandersville; Phyllis Hatcher, Conyers; Femi Oduwole, Loganville; and Paul Walton, Hull, Ga.  

Republican Party candidates who qualified for the May 24 primary included:

• Newton County Board of Commissioners, District 2: Donnie Bryant.

• Newton County Board of Commissioners, District 4: Scotty Scoggins.

• Newton County School Board, District 1: Trey Bailey (I).

• Newton County School Board, District 5: Abigail Coggin (I).

• State Senate District 17: Brett Mauldin, Madison; Brian Strickland (I), McDonough.

• State Senate District 43: Melanie Williams, Stonecrest.

• State House District 114: Tim Fleming, Covington; Wendell McNeal, Madison.

• U.S. House, District 4: Jonathan Chavez, Conyers; Surrea Ivy, Gwinnett County.

• U.S. House, District 10: Timothy Barr, Watkinsville; Paul Broun, Athens; Mike Collins, Jackson; David Curry, Monticello; Vernon Jones, Watkinsville; Marc McMain, Monroe; Alan Sims, Winder; and Mitchell Swan, Good Hope.

The 10th Congressional District seat is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who is running for Secretary of State. 

Republican candidates qualified for county offices at Canaan Baptist Church while Democratic candidates qualified at Covington Municipal Airport. 

Qualifying for state and federal offices was done at the State Capitol building in Atlanta.

(I) denotes an incumbent office-holder.