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BRIDGES: Georgia incumbents who typically get a pass may not in 2022
Chris Bridges
Chris Bridges

This is an opinion.

There are multiple reasons why the 2022 election in Georgia is going to be fascinating to watch.

First, the election this past year changed the dynamics of politics in our state, at least temporarily.

Democrats captured both U.S. Senate seats and, in the process, tipped the power of balance for the entire country. It was a historic moment, regardless of whether you liked the outcome.

Now all eyes are on the upcoming year and it will be more than just Republicans vs. Democrats.

It is very possible that all statewide Republican incumbents are going to have primary opposition. Already multiple candidates have announced their intentions to challenge incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp. The same goes for other statewide offices, most notably Secretary of State.

By the time all is said and done, it will not be surprising to see contested primaries up and down the ballot. It will not be a surprise on the Democratic side since numerous challengers are hoping to unseat the Republican incumbents.

What is unusual, however, is how the Civil War within the state Republican Party continues to burn on. In past years, state GOP officials have always discouraged candidates from running against an incumbent.

When a challenger qualified to run in the Republican primary against then governor Sonny Perdue, the state Republican Party refused to even acknowledge that campaign.

Upon calling the state Republican headquarters to inquire about what I thought was an odd approach to primary challenges to incumbents, a spokesperson quickly and rather rudely informed me that no one else should even consider running. The spokesperson then quickly ended the call and the conversation.

The state GOP even refused to list the challenger on the party’s website and acted as if he was doing something immoral or illegal by running.

A similar situation happened in the 2020 presidential primary in Georgia. While there were numerous Democrats on the ballot for that party’s primary, the state GOP refused to allow any challengers on the ballot against President Trump. 

It didn’t matter that the two challengers had both been elected to office, including one as a two-term governor. No challengers were allowed, the state GOP declared. It was a move that would have made any country run by a dictator proud as there would be one choice and one choice only.

Jody Hice, who represents Newton County in Congress, has now officially entered the primary against incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger according to numerous media reports. Hice won’t be alone in challenging Raffensperger.

Even Mark Butler, the Republican Labor Commissioner, is likely to have primary opposition. In Butler’s case it is probably a little less to do with politics. Numerous people on both sides o the political spectrum have criticized the way Butlers office has handled the unemployment crisis in Georgia during the ongoing pandemic. 

A recent reported showed how a staggering number o Georgians have still been unable to receive benefits despite filling months ago. The offices overseen by Butler remained closed and no one can ever get an actual person on the phone or have messages of any kind returned.

How will the state GOP handle so many of their incumbents being challenged? Will they once again ignore the challengers and their campaigns? In this case, it doesn’t seem that will even matter. Many Georgians are extremely upset with certain elected officials, even though in the political party they support. 

The Republican primary contests could get very ugly before all is said and done. Of course, one drawback of that will be a weakened candidate for the general election. 

Political campaigns have always been fascinating to watch for those who take notice of such things. Now it seems more than just political junkies are paying close attention. 

Chris Bridges is a News correspondent. Email him at