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Ex-Trump administration officials win GOP runoffs for US House

David Wickert, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

ATLANTA — Two former Trump administration officials will seek to represent Georgia in Congress after prevailing in separate Republican primary election runoffs Tuesday.

Brian Jack, then-President Donald Trump’s White House political director, is almost certainly headed to Congress after defeating former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan in the 3rd District runoff. In November, Jack will face Democrat Maura Keller in the west Georgia district drawn by GOP legislators to ensure a Republican victory.

In the 2nd District, A. Wayne Johnson, a former Department of Education official in the Trump administration, defeated Chuck Hand. This fall, Johnson faces a tough battle to unseat incumbent Democrat Sanford Bishop of Albany, who has served 16 terms in Congress.

The 3rd District stretches from the southwestern Atlanta suburbs to the Alabama state line. The May primary race drew five Republicans, with Jack drawing the most support and Dugan finishing a distant second.

Jack joined the Trump campaign in 2016 and helped build an extensive ground operation. He followed Trump to the White House, where he served as director of political affairs, sticking with the president until his final day in office.

On the 3rd District campaign trail, Jack drew on the former president’s endorsement and on the star power of others in Trump’s orbit. U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, former presidential candidate Ben Carson and others campaigned for Jack.

Dugan won endorsements from state legislators, local sheriffs and a former agricultural commissioner. He portrayed Jack as a Washington insider and touted his own “Georgia values.”

During the campaign, Jack promised to support Trump’s agenda, including “defunding” prosecutors targeting the former president and conducting a mass deportation of people in the United States illegally. Dugan cited Republican legislative accomplishments during his tenure, which included rewriting voting rules, setting new limits on abortion and expanding gun rights.

Jack and Dugan both sought to align themselves with Trump. For example, at a recent debate, both indicated they believed Trump was the “rightful” winner of the 2020 election, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But both candidates also said they did not plan to adopt the attention-grabbing style of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who frequently makes headlines for incendiary comments.

 

In the redrawn 2nd District, six Republicans sought to take on Bishop in a southwest Georgia district that the incumbent has held since the 1990s. Johnson and Hand advanced to the Republican runoff, and Johnson prevailed on Tuesday.

Johnson served as chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid in the Department of Education under Trump.

Hand is a construction worker who drew attention for his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. He and his wife, Mandy, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of illegally demonstrating in the Capitol. They were each sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation.

He made headlines earlier this month by walking out of a televised debate as a protest against Johnson highlighting his criminal record.

Johnson faces a difficult challenge in trying to unseat Bishop. The Democrat easily defeated a well-funded opponent two years ago, scaring off more formidable opponents this year, although the Republican-led General Assembly redrew the 2nd District in 2023 to make it slightly more GOP-friendly.

Johnson thanked his supporters in a social media post late Tuesday.

“Now we begin the welcome task of taking back our district and once again serving our communities!” he wrote.


©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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