Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Trump Trial Judge Face Challengers in Georgia’s Election Battleground

Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Trump Trial Judge Face Challengers in Georgia’s Election Battleground
(Left) Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court during a hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Ga., on March 1, 2024. (Right) Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis looks on during a hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Ga., on March 1, 2024. (Alex Slitz/Pool/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, Ga.—Georgia’s election battleground comes alive on May 21 as voters participate in general primaries and judicial elections, with key races overshadowed by the nationally divisive topics of former President Donald Trump and abortion.

Two key figures involved in President Trump’s election interference case are facing challenges to their re-election bids. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the case, is being challenged by Robert Patillo. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is being primaried by Christian Wise Smith.

Mr. Smith previously ran for the district attorney position in 2020. He is the founder of the nonprofit National Social Justice Alliance, which, according to his website, is “a mission to unite prosecuting attorneys across the country to end police brutality.”

Judge McAfee ruled in March that President Trump and his co-defendants “failed to meet their burden” in proving that Ms. Willis’s relationship with Mr. Wade amounted to a “conflict of interest.” Nor did they sufficiently prove that Ms. Willis financially benefited from it. However, he also ruled that either Ms. Willis or Mr. Wade had to step down from the case. President Trump’s lawyers filed to appeal that ruling on May 17.

Whoever wins the Democrats’ nomination will go on to face off against Republican nominee Courtney Kramer.

Superior Court

Georgia’s Superior Court election is officially nonpartisan. However, Judge McAfee was appointed to his position by Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022.

Robert Patillo is a civil rights attorney with a track record that is rooted in the Democratic Party and is suing the state over its “Stand Your Ground” law. He has also worked with and advised Jesse Jackson for more than 20 years, and currently runs a weekly radio show called “People, Passion, Politics.”

Mr. Patillo also served on the board of directors for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and he states on his website that he believes “a judge should possess a more diverse background beyond solely being a prosecutor throughout their entire career.”

Judge McAfee’s election campaign, meanwhile, prioritizes a need to “hold violent offenders accountable,” clear a backlog of cases delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide a path forward for non-violent offenders.

“True justice isn’t about locking people up and throwing away the key,” he said on his website. “I will work to provide a path forward for those who have made mistakes and have a desire to become productive members of our community.”

State Supreme Court

The partisan division is also showing itself in the officially non-partisan State Supreme Court race.

State Supreme Court Judge Andrew Pinson is facing off against challenger John Barrow. In what is supposed to be a non-partisan election, party lines have become increasingly pronounced in recent weeks. Mr. Barrow has insisted on making abortion the main focus of his campaign, earning endorsements from pro-choice groups and former state representative Stacey Abrams, a Democrat. Meanwhile, Justice Pinson has been endorsed by Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp and other conservative groups.

Justice Pinson has continued to speak on the need to keep his election and the Supreme Court seats nonpartisan.

“As judges, we take an oath to remain fair and impartial on every matter that comes before us,” he said in a statement. “I take that oath seriously because every Georgian deserves just and equal treatment under the law. Unfortunately, my opponent is running a hyper-partisan campaign based on promising to defy the judicial oath.”

Primaries

Republican Drew Ferguson’s retirement created the state’s only open seat in the House of Representatives. Five Republicans are vying for the nomination, including a former Trump adviser, Brian Jack. President Trump has already given Mr. Jack his official endorsement.

In a post on Truth Social, President Trump said that he encouraged Mr. Jack to run for the vacant seat in the House of Representatives and praised him as “a man of loyalty, honesty, and integrity.”

“He represents a new generation of leadership, and he will be a great congressman, working with me and other Republicans to fix the damage Joe Biden has done to our country,” President Trump said.

The other Republican candidates include former State Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, former State Senator Mike Crane, a former police officer named Jim Bennett, and former State Representative Phillip Singleton.

Val Almonord and Maura Keller will run their own primary to earn the Democrats’ nomination. 

Georgia has 14 Congressional districts. Of the remaining 13 districts, 10 feature incumbents who are running unopposed. Those three include Democrats Lucy McBath and David Scott and Republican Barry Loudermilk.

The governorship will remain with Mr. Kemp this election year. Neither of Georgia’s senators are up for re-election this year. Georgia’s presidential primary was held on March 12.

Georgia’s primary election comes after weeks of early voting that ended on May 17. Georgia’s secretary of state reported more than 555,000 ballots had already been counted, and more than 510,000 were done in person.

These primaries are open, which means voters can choose either party’s ballot. However, as of May 15, 54 percent of the ballots collected were in the Republican primary and 44 percent in the Democratic primary.

More than 8 million registered voters were reported as of May 16.

Polls on May 21 will be open across the state of Georgia until 7 p.m.

From The Epoch Times

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