Meet the candidates in the upcoming Georgia runoffs

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After victories in the November 7 elections, Democrats in Georgia will win four more seats in runoff elections.

On December 5, two state House and two state Senate races will come to a runoff vote, and all eight candidates in the running are Democrats. The District 6 Senate seat, previously held by Republican Hunter Hill, will be blue again for the first time since 2012.

These elections will end Republicans’ two-thirds majority in the Senate, which will protect the veto power of a Democratic governor. The winners of these races will all face another election in 2018.

House District 60

District 60 was vacated by Rep. Keisha Waites (D) who resigned in order to run for the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Three candidates ran in the initial November 7 election, and Democrats De’Andre S. Pickett and Kim Schofield moved on to a runoff.

De’Andre S. Pickett

De’Andre Pickett came in second in the open election, with 34.9 percent of the vote. He is an educator and works as president and CEO of the Main Street Academy, a charter school in Fulton County. Pickett has run for two other offices — East Point City Council in 2013 and Fulton County Board of Education in 2014 — and lost both races.

But this race is different for Pickett, since it’s his first time running as an openly gay candidate. If elected, Pickett will make history as the first gay African-American man in the Georgia state legislature.

Pickett’s expertise is in education. He has worked as an educator since 2006, and has campaigned on a platform based on education, healthcare, criminal justice, and economic reform. Pickett has experience in government, having worked as chief of staff for two state representatives and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

Kim Schofield

Kim Schofield just barely beat out Pickett in the November 7 election, with 35.9 percent of the vote. She is a worksite health promotion trainer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a teaching assistant at Beulah Heights University, and a project research specialist at Emory University. She is also completing a doctorate at Oral Roberts University in theology and organizational leadership.

Like Pickett, Schofield has campaigned on education and healthcare, and has made Medicaid expansion the cornerstone of her platform. Her previous political experience includes helping to draft four pieces of policy for the state General Assembly.

House District 89

The District 89 seat was held by Rep. Stacey Abrams (D), who stepped down in August to focus on her campaign for the governor’s office. The top two candidates from the general election are Democrats Bee Nguyen and Sachin Varghese.

Bee Nguyen

Bee Nguyen placed first in the initial election with 39.7 percent of the vote. She is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Athena’s Warehouse, which sponsors programs for teen girls in at-risk communities. Nguyen has also worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. In 2016, she managed Sam Park’s successful campaign for the General Assembly.

Nguyen has campaigned on education and economic reform, as well as reforms in the criminal justice system and greater protections for victims of family violence.

Sachin Varghese

Sachin Varghese came in second with 34 percent of the vote in the November 7 election. He is a lawyer for the litigation firm Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, and also briefly taught at an Atlanta elementary school. As a lawyer, he has represented challengers to Georgia’s redrawn district maps, including the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. As a child, Varghese immigrated to the United States from India.

Varghese has campaigned on education reform, expansion of Medicaid, and expansion of access to women’s health centers.

Senate District 6

The winner of this runoff will replace Hunter Hill (R) who, like Abrams, stepped down to focus on his run for governor.

This runoff has come under fire from Republicans, who believe they should be allowed to field a candidate, as the five Republican candidates combined won a greater share of the vote (50.7 percent) than the three Democratic candidates (49.3 percent). But the top two candidates who will proceed to a runoff are Democrats Jaha Howard and Jen Jordan.

Jen Jordan

Jen Jordan placed first in the initial vote with 24.4 percent. She practices law as a partner at the personal injury firm Shamp Speed Jordan Woodward, and notably filed suit against the Georgia secretary of state following 2015’s massive data breach in which more than 7.5 million voter records were hacked.

Jordan has made women’s healthcare and equality a central issue of her campaign, in addition to a strong emphasis on workplace equality for members of the LGBTQ community. Jordan is also committed to raising the minimum wage statewide and removing wage limits on local governments, allowing them to raise it even higher.

Jaha Howard

Dr. Jaha Howard took second place in the general election with 22.5 percent of the vote. He is a practicing pediatric dentist and the founder of Wave of Excellence, an organization which works with parents to aid neighborhood schools in Smyrna.

Howard has placed special emphasis on healthcare reform, including the expansion of Medicaid and protections for the Affordable Care Act. As a business owner himself, Howard has also focused on increasing small business growth.

Senate District 39

The special election to replace former state Senator Vincent Fort (D), who vacated the seat to run for mayor of Atlanta, resulted in a runoff between Democrats Nikema Williams and Linda Pritchett.

Linda Pritchett

Linda Pritchett placed second with 31.5 percent of the vote. She has twice run for seats in the Georgia House, and lost both times. Pritchett is a paralegal and has worked for a number of state representatives.

On Monday, a Fulton County voter requested that the secretary of state’s office remove Pritchett from the ballot on the grounds that she did not disclose a 2006 guilty plea to charges of felony larceny. Pritchett has responded, and has said those charges were vacated by a judge after she served two years probation.

Pritchett lists economic reform, increased funding for the HOPE scholarship program, and criminal justice reform as her key issues.

Nikema Williams

Nikema Williams beat Pritchett with 34.8 percent of the vote in the November 7 elections. She works as the vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast and is the first vice chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia. Williams has also served as a member of the Democratic National Committee.

Williams has campaigned on increased access to reproductive healthcare, workplace equality for women and members of the LGBTQ community, and education reform.

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