Georgia state Sen. Burt Jones went from underdog in the 2022 Midterm Primary for Lt. Governor to frontrunner in the General Election, now just days away.
Jones faces Democrat Charlie Bailey in the race to replace incumbent Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, who opted not to seek re-election after facing pushback from fellow Republicans over speaking out about efforts to overturn results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, a push that included Jones.
Georgia’s Lt. Governor position is elected separately from Governor, unlike neighboring Florida where the two candidates run on the same ticket.
That means, hypothetically, a Republican could be elected Governor and a Democrat Lt. Governor, or vice versa, though that is unlikely and hasn’t happened since Republican Sonny Perdue took office in 2003 when he served alongside Democrat Mark Taylor until 2007, when Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle took office.
Incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, is widely expected to win re-election over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.
Jones, meanwhile, has raised about six times as much as his Democratic challenger, according to Axios, and is enjoying a surge of GOP support in Georgia and abroad this election cycle, meaning it’s likely the two will serve together.
Jones spoke with Southeast Politics about his race so far and his hopes for Election Day, expressing “cautious optimism.”
“I feel like the momentum is with our ticket. Gov. Kemp is running pretty strong; everyone on the down ballot is doing well,” Jones said. “But we’re not going to take anything for granted.”
Jones will stay on the campaign trail through Election Day, with stops planned with Kemp and U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, as well as some individual events.
Jones will be in Athens Saturday morning before heading to the Georgia/Tennessee college football game at Sanford Stadium at 3:30. Jones plans to attend church with his family on Sunday before hitting the trail again Monday with Kemp on a statewide campaign tour.
While Jones has the advantage in the race, his campaign has not been without controversy. Jones, a state Senator since 2012, was one of 16 “fake electors” for Donald Trump in 2020 and has come under fire for his role in trying to overturn 2020 election results in Georgia. But he’s largely dismissive of the criticism, noting it wasn’t his intention to overturn the election, rather to be part of an alternative slate of electors to be used if the former President had won any of his election-related legal challenges. He also says that’s not what voters are concerned about right now.
Indeed, his campaign has focused on rising inflation and crime, areas GOP candidates nationwide have capitalized on by placing blame for high household costs for things like groceries and gas and increased crime on Democrats in power in Washington, namely President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We expect good turnout and some good news on Tuesday,” Jones said.
Like other candidates, regardless of party affiliation, Jones will also be focused on turning out voters.
“We have to make sure people aren’t complacent,” Jones said. “We’ve still got to finish strong and make sure to keep pushing people to go vote.”
Turnout is already strong. As of Thursday, more than 2 million Georgia voters had already cast a ballot, a turnout of nearly 29% with a full day of early voting and Election Day remaining, according to the most recent L2 voter data. While more Democrats had voted as of Thursday, 959,645 to 924,164 GOP votes, Election Day turnout is expected to favor Republicans.
And while there hasn’t been polling to gauge the Lt. Governor race, statewide polls show Republicans, in some cases, dominating. FiveThirtyEight’s aggregate of polls put Kemp 7.6 percentage points ahead of Abrams. Not a single poll in their calculous has put Abrams closer than 5 points to her Republican opponent.
Even in Georgia’s battleground Senate race, which features incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock against Republican Walker, who has been plagued in recent weeks by alleged scandal, the race is deadlocked, with Walker surging — in mid-October, Walker was about 4 points behind Warnock and hadn’t been tied or leading since late June.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8 statewide. Early voting ends Friday.