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Incumbent Kemp prevails against Trump-endorsed challenger in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary

Results from the primary election will determine which Republican and Democratic candidates will appear on November's ballot.

ATLANTA (CN) — Shortly after polls closed Tuesday, Republican Governor Brian Kemp appeared to have easily bested his Trump-endorsed challenger David Perdue in the race to gain the party's nomination for governor.

Perdue had conceded the race as of 8:30 p.m. With 77% of precincts reporting, Kemp had 73% of the vote while Perdue had 22%, indicating voters weren't so swayed by Trump's endorsement of the former state Senator.

Kemp has been criticized by the former president for not backing disproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Public speaker and civil rights advocate Catherine Davis, longtime educator Kandiss Taylor, and Tom Williams also appeared on the ballot in the Republican race for the nomination for Georgia’s top seat. Each earned very small percentages of the vote.

There was much less divisiveness on the Democratic side with Stacey Abrams running unopposed as the party's only candidate for governor.

Abrams has gained national notoriety among Democrats for her massive voting engagement efforts in 2018 and now faces a rematch against Kemp in November.

In the first two months of her second campaign for the state's highest office, Abrams amassed $9.2 million in fundraising, which is nearly $2 million more earned in that span than Kemp took in over a six-month period.

In the race for Georgia's U.S. Senate seat, Trump endorsee and former NFL and University of Georgia football star, Hershel Walker crushed his opponents with 69% of the vote as 77% of precincts were reporting.

State Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black came in second with 14% of the vote, while other challengers including contractor and military veteran Kelvin King, ex-state Representative Josh Clark, former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler, and former Brigadier General of the U.S. Army Jonathan McColumn gained a negligible percentage of the vote.

Walker will face Senator Raphael Warnock, a senior pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church who became the state’s first Black senator in last year’s runoffs.

During the last election, Georgia voters elected Democrats to the U.S. Senate for the first time in two decades. Warnock raised $25.6 million in fundraising, surpassing the $5.5 million raised between January and March by Walker.

Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger led with 51% of the vote as 77% of precincts were reporting in the primary race for his office, despite scrutiny from both sides of the political coin for his handling of voting, most notably from Trump and his followers after Raffensperger refused to comply with Trump’s request to “find” enough votes to give him a victory over President Joe Biden.

Although the state’s electoral votes were certified by bipartisan officials in early January 2021, Trump’s denial of his loss is echoed by his endorsement of Congressman Jody Hice, a “Stop the Steal” conspiracist who trailed behind Raffensperger with 34% of the vote.

Abrams voting rights advocacy group, Fair Fight Action, is also suing Raffensperger’s office in federal court over several hurdles Georgian’s face in the voting process.

Multiple Democratic candidates are pursuing the role of Georgia’s top election official, including state Representative Bee Nguyen, cybersecurity expert Michael Owens, former state Senator Floyd Griffin, former Fulton County Commissioner John Eaves and former state Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler. Nguyen was in the lead as of 11 p.m. with 42% of the vote.

Voters experienced relatively short lines and few problems casting their votes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at neighborhood precincts across one of the nation's most politically combative states.

Some polling places did experience issues with opening and extended closing times as a result, such as two polling places in Fulton County, Hopewell Middle in Milton and Creel Park in South Fulton, which opened 20 to 30 minutes late, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Another polling place at Bethesda Elementary School in Gwinnett County opened about 30 minutes late, according to The New Georgia Project, a voting rights group that monitors election issues.

So far, 860,068 people cast their votes over the past three weeks during in-person early voting — a 168% increase in turnout compared to the previous primary election in 2018.

"This is an important election and I want to make sure my voice is heard," said Karen Shear, a voter in Marietta.

Many voters at Marietta High School expressed their reason for voting was for local office positions.

"I just moved here recently and I feel like it's my civic duty to do my research and get involved in the local politics," said Zach Rutherford.

Another Cobb County voter said she came to vote specifically for a superior court judge, after reading about how candidate Matt McMaster represented a father trying to get custody of his 15-year-old daughter, who the judges put in the mother's home with a non-blood-related, physically abusive man.

The Republican and Democratic nominees will appear on November's ballot.

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