May 20, 2024 - Politics

DA and judge from Trump's Georgia case go before voters

An interactive dashboard showing the latest results of the uncontested presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional primaries in Georgia.
Data: Associated Press; Chart: Axios Visuals

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the prosecutor handling former President Donald Trump's election interference case, and Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, the judge overseeing the trial, both face primary challengers Tuesday.

Why it matters: A loss by Willis could delay or derail the sprawling case the prosecutor has mounted against Trump and his alleged co-conspirators.

  • "The entire future course of the election case hinges on the outcomes," Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis told Axios. "If Willis does not win, her successor could choose to not pursue the case or do so less vigorously."

State of play: Polls close at 7pm. Explore the different race results using our interactive graphic above.

Between the lines: Although both Willis and Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee are favored to win, Tuesday's elections will be the first show of confidence from voters about the elected officials' jobs.

Zoom in: Willis — who in her first term in office launched high-profile cases against Trump and Young Thug — faces a challenge from Christian Wise Smith, a former Fulton prosecutor and unsuccessful 2022 Georgia attorney general candidate.

  • Smith says he would continue the Trump prosecution. He says Willis should have spent the $1 million paid to Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor with whom Willis had a romantic relationship, on other cases.

Intrigue: The Georgia Court of Appeals is expected to take several months to rule on the former president's request to review McAfee's decision not to remove Willis, according to Georgia Recorder.

What's next: The winner of the DA Democratic primary will take on Courtney Kramer, the only Republican candidate to qualify, in November's general election. Kramer worked in the Trump White House and on Trump's campaign, according to the New York Times.

Zoom out: McAfee, a former state inspector general appointed to the bench by Gov. Brian Kemp in Dec. 2022, faces civil rights attorney and radio host Robert Patillo in a nonpartisan race.

  • Defense attorney Tiffani Johnson was disqualified from the race in late April, leaving too little time to remove her name from the ballot, according to the AP.

What they're saying: If McAfee loses, his successor would most likely take on his caseload, barring any successful challenges to their impartiality, Kreis says. It is possible that it could be reassigned at random, however.

  • "But given the timing of appeals and the likelihood that no trial can begin until spring 2025 anyway, it wouldn't have any impact on the timing of a trial in all probability."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that candidate Tiffani Johnson was disqualified from the Superior Court race. Her name will still appear on the ballot.

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