Oct 24, 2022 - Politics

State Sen. Burt Jones faces Dem. Charlie Bailey in lieutenant governor race

Photo illustration of Charlie Bailey, tinted blue, and Burt Jones, tinted red, divided by a halftone line

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Megan Varner/Getty Images and Georgia General Assembly

In the Georgia lieutenant governor's race Democrat Charlie Bailey has tried to center the election on Republican opponent, state Sen. Burt Jones’ participation in the slate of Republican electors who “certified” a Trump 2020 victory.

  • But Jones, who has raised six times the amount of money as Bailey, has been using his resources to try to counter that with a message focused on rising inflation and crime, insisting voters are no longer focused on 2020.

Why it matters: The lieutenant governor is second in command and president of the state Senate, with the ability to control legislative movement. Outgoing Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is credited with helping kill the Buckhead cityhood movement last session, for example.

Yes, but: Much of a lieutenant governor’s powers can be removed by state senators themselves, which would put a Democratic lieutenant governor in peril given a likely Republican senate majority.

The big picture: The two candidates have campaigned alongside their counterparts in the governor’s race. But while Abrams and Bailey largely align on policy, Republicans Jones and Gov. Brian Kemp’s records and policies feature some major differences.

Catch up quick: While Kemp fought off a Trump-backed challenger, Jones is one of the two Trump endorsees on the statewide ticket. He helped lead the local pressure campaign on Kemp for a special legislative session after 2020.

  • He participated in the slate of GOP electors and almost delivered a letter urging Vice President Mike Pence to delay certification of Georgia’s results.
  • Jones was stripped of leadership roles by fellow Republicans as a result.

What he’s saying: Jones told Axios he wasn't trying to overturn the election but was responding to constituent concerns. He said the alternate slate was merely "pending" on Trump's lawsuits after the election, in case he had won any of them.

Of note: Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis was barred by a judge this summer from directly investigating Jones (as she is the other electors) because she had politically supported her former colleague: Bailey.

Zoom in: Jones, who was elected to the state senate in 2012, counts among his policy proposals increasing law enforcement and education funding and eliminating the state income tax, something Kemp’s former primary opponent David Perdue unsuccessfully advocated for.

  • Jones has in the past been an advocate for controversial legislation that fellow Republicans rejected, including the de-annexation of Buckhead from the city of Atlanta and a state takeover of the Atlanta airport.

The other side: Bailey, a former Fulton County prosecutor, switched from the attorney general primary early this year. He was the Democratic 2018 attorney general nominee.

  • Bailey’s policy platform overlaps greatly with Abrams, including making technical college free, supporting the legalization of gambling and expanding Medicaid.

The intrigue: Jones has sought to cast doubt on Bailey's record by accusing him of hiding a past arrest for suspected DUI in 2011. Bailey refused a sobriety test and ultimately pled guilty to reckless driving.

  • Jones also took aim at Bailey for a past suspension from the DA's office in 2017 during their October debate. Bailey responded he's "proud" of his record and said he was "not going to be lectured" by Jones given his role as a Trump elector.

By the numbers: Jones, an heir to an oil fortune, has had a massive fundraising advantage. He’s raised $12.4 million to Bailey’s $2.3 million.

  • An October Georgia News Collaborative poll shows a wide group of undecided voters in the race at 14%. Jones holds the lead, but with a smaller margin than some Republicans in other races.
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