What to Watch in the May 24 Primaries
Donald Trump’s attempt to co-opt election offices in states he narrowly lost in 2020 will see one of its biggest tests on May 24, when candidates he has endorsed for major statewide offices in Georgia face off against Republican incumbents. But voters will also decide dozens of other primaries and elections across Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas. Three state supreme court seats are on the line on Tuesday, as well as heated battles for prosecutor, secretary of state, Congress, and much more.
Here are 40 elections to watch on May 24, and why they matter. More may be added to our cheat sheet, which is prepared by Bolts editor Daniel Nichanian, through Election Day.
Check back on Election Night as we fill in each result. And support us to help sustain this work.
Governor Kay Ivey has governed as a staunch conservative but faces a crowded primary marked by a rightward race, including from Tim James, whose campaign is centered on attacking LGBT rights and running ads attacking a drag show.
The former press secretary of the Trump White House, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, is the favorite in this race to replace the retiring governor. Her entry largely cleared the GOP field, but not entirely.
Five Democrats are running for governor, and will face a tough road in a state that has rapidly drifted away from their party.
Trump, angered by Governor Brian Kemp’s refusal to follow Trump’s lead for a 2019 U.S. Senate appointment, and later by his refusal to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results, recruited and endorsed former U.S. Senator David Perdue to challenge the incumbent governor.
Donald Trump yanked his endorsement from U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, because Brooks wasn’t doing well enough. But Brooks still has a strong chance to make the June runoff against either of his opponents, Katie Britt and Mike Durant. Britt is likely the most establishment-oriented candidate, with the support of the outgoing senator.
|Runoff: Britt vs. Brooks
Who will face Dem U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock in the fall? Trump’s endorsement of Hershel Walker gave him a prompt boost, though some didn’t give up.
Other statewide elections
|Georgia | Lieut. Gov. (GOP)
This race includes Trump-endorsed State Senator Burt Jones, one of the night’s many elections featuring candidates who worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
|Georgia | Attorney General (GOP)
Here’s another: John Gordon promptly promoted the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and took part in a lawsuit on Trump’s behalf after the former president lost. Gordon is now running on that issue to challenge incumbent Attorney General Chris Carr, who is defending the latest Republican law restricting ballot access, on that basis. HuffPost previews.
|Georgia | Attorney General (Dem)
Concerns over voting rights are animating Georgia Democrats, who will decide on Tuesday who will go up against Carr or Gordon. The two candidates are state Senator Jen Jordan and attorney and former prosecutor Christian Wise Smith.
|Georgia | Insurance Commissioner (GOP)
There is seemingly no end to how far down the ballot Trump will go to punish Kemp for his supposed apostasy: In this primary, Trump has endorsed Patrick Witt against the Kemp-appointed John King.
|Texas | Attorney General (Dem)
A crowded Democratic primary has narrowed to a runoff between Rochelle Garza, a former ACLU lawyer who has fought for abortion rights, and Joe Jaworski, the former Galveston mayor.
|Texas | Attorney General (GOP)
Indictments for securities fraud have loomed over Attorney General Ken Paxton for seven years, in addition to more recent scandals and allegations of wrongdoing, but Paxton has also been a darling of the far-right due to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, police voting and restrict LGBTQ rights. He faces George P. Bush, presidential nephew and current state land commissioner, in the runoff.
|Texas | Land Commissioner (Dem/GOP)
Both parties are choosing their nominee to replace George P. Bush. On the Republican side, state Senator Dawn Buckingham says the role of land commissioner is about border security; she’s clearly favored in the runoff as she was well ahead in the first round, and has Trump’s nod. On the Democratic side, KUT reports, the runoff candidates are emphasizing two different priorities: climate change and mental health.
U.S. House Primaries, GOP
Conrad Reynolds is challenging incumbent French Hill, and points to Hill’s vote to certify the presidential election as a chief reason.
Republicans gerrymandered this seat to oust Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath, who is now running elsewhere. In the GOP primary, Trump is supporting Jake Evans, other conservatives luminaries are supporting Rich McCormick, and others are running too.
Jody Hice is leaving his congressional seat to run statewide, but the crowded field running to replace him is just as far to the right. Among the eight candidates: Hice has endorsed Timothy Barr; Trump has endorsed Vernon Jones, who has cheered the former president’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s last election; former member of Congress Paul Broun, who famously called evolution and the Big Bang theory “lies straight from the pit of hell” is mounting a comeback. We’d expect a runoff, but between whom?
This is Marjorie Taylor Greene’s re-election race; in a staunchly red district, she faces GOP challenger Jennifer Strahan.
Republicans are choosing their nominee in a special election for a red-leaning seat, and it’s an uncertain contest in a crowded field, including the arch-conservative Jeremy Munson, who is running with Michele Bachmann’s support but opposed by much of the party establishment. MinnPost previews.
U.S. House primaries, Dem
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who stalled her party’s domestic agenda as part of the “Unbreakable Nine” lawmakers in 2021, faces fellow U.S. Rep. Lucy McBrath in a battle between Democratic incumbents thrown into the same district due to the GOP’s gerrymander.
In this primary runoff for an open seat in South Texas, Democrats will decide between Ruben Ramirez and Michelle Vallejo, who has taken a more progressive approach. The winner will face a very competitive general election.
Progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros takes on longtime Blue Dog incumbent Henry Cuellar in one of the cycle’s marquee Democratic primaries, a rematch of their 2020 race. The leak that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade has dialed up the focus on abortion given Cuellar’s opposition to abortion.
State lawmaker Jasmine Crockett ran as the more progressive candidate for this open and safe blue seat against Jane Hamilton. The Texas Tribune previews.
|Alabama | HD54 (Dem)
Against the backdrop of a new law targeting LGBTQ rights in the state, two LGBTQ Democrats are running in a heated primary in Birmingham. NBC News previews.
|Georgia | SD7 (Dem)
A heated primary for an open Senate seat between state Rep. Beth Moore and Nabilah Islam, who ran for Congress with AOC’s support in 2020.
|Texas | HD19 (GOP)
In this GOP runoff is Justin Berry, a police officer who was recently indicted for excessive force against protesters. He is a police union VP with a history of fear mongering.
|Texas | HD63 (GOP)
This GOP runoff pits Jeff Younger, who helped ignite the state GOP’s attacks on trans families, and became the “poster child” of the cause, as the Texas Tribune reports, and firearms businessman Ben Bumgarner.
|TX | HD91 (GOP)
A staunchly anti-abortion Republican incumbent, Stephanie Klick, has been targeted by a group that has wanted the state to go even further in criminalizing abortion. Read The Dallas Morning News preview.
Supreme Courts (read more)
|Arkansas, first seat
Candidates with close ties to the GOP are running in two state supreme court elections to push the court to the right. In the first, Justice Karen Baker faces Gunner DeLay, a lower-court judge and former Republican lawmaker who is touting his conservative politics. Read Bolts about the race.
|Arkansas, second seat
In the second, Justice Robin Wynne faces two challengers, including the former executive director of the state Republican Party, Chris Carnahan, who is receiving money from GOP donors. (This may go to a runoff.)
On paper, the 2022 cycle seemed poised to rock this state’s supreme court. But a “dystopian” loophole helps explain why that potential fizzled, as one of the elections originally planned for this week was canceled and two incumbents appointed by the Republican governor drew no opponent. The one justice who faces an opponent on Tuesday is Verda Colvin, against Veronica Brinson.
|Alabama | Secretary of State (GOP)
Incumbent John Merrill, known for blocking critics on Twitter and denying the state’s history of voter suppression, is retiring. The leading GOP candidates have touted their support for new restrictions like a ban on curbside voting. Candidate Wes Allen has embraced a right-wing conspiracy theory in proposing Alabama quit a bipartisan national organization that assists states in maintaining voter rolls, alluding to spurious ties with billionaire George Soros.
|Georgia | Secretary of state (GOP)
In a night full of GOP primaries where the Big Lie looms large, this may be the marquee test: Trump asked Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” thousands of votes to put him on top of Georgia’s 2020 election. Angered by Raffensperger’s refusal to help him overturn the results, Trump has fueled U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s bid to oust Raffensperger, who in the meantime is defending new restrictions on voter access.
|Georgia | Secretary of state (Dem)
Winning the office that runs elections in Georgia is a key priority for Democrats, especially if Trump runs for president again and wants to pressure the office-holder. Voters will choose between a crowded field that includes Bee Nguyen, Michael Owens, and many others. (The race may go to a runoff.)
|Arkansas | District 6
The DA of Perry and Pulaski County, home to Little Rock, is retiring this year after 25 years, and he has endorsed Will Jones, a former prosecutor in his office. Jones is facing public defender Alicia Walton, who is running on some reform proposals and criticism of the rush to incarcerate. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette previews.
|Arkansas | District 2
In Northwest Arkansas (Madison and Washington counties), incumbent Matt Durrett faces Stephen Coger, who is running on bringing new criminal justice reforms to the district and opposes a proposed jail expansion, saying pretrial detention ought to be lowered first. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette previews.
|Texas | Tarrant County (GOP)
Republicans are deciding their nominee for DA in one of the nation’s most populous counties, between the Trump-endorsed Phil Sorrells and state Rep. Matt Krause, who is running on his record as a cultural warrior for the Christian Right. Bolts previews this election.
Other Local Elections
|Arkansas | Conway school board
The latest example of a conservative effort to push school boards to the right is unfolding in Conway, with a slate of three conservative candidates.
|Georgia | Athens mayor
Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz faces five challengers on Tuesday, including more conservative opponents. The Athens Flagpole previews.
|Texas | Bexar County Judge
Bexar County, home to San Antonio, will get its first new executive in decades as Peter Sakai and Ina Minjarez battle in an open Dem. runoff for county judge. The San Antonio Report profiles both candidates.