Georgia Lt. governor’s race between Trump and Abrams-backed hopefuls
Neither Bailey nor Graham have held public office before.
The three candidates are hoping to succeed incumbent Republican Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, who opted out of running after criticizing Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to the Democrat. Joe Biden.
The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Georgia Senate and plays a role in assigning senators to house committees.
A recent poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Jones received support from more than 43% of those polled. Bailey had around 33% support. Graham was favored by almost 8%.
About 16% of respondents say they are undecided.
The poll of likely voters was conducted Sept. 5-16 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. He has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.
As soon as Bailey, 39, walked out of the crowded nine-year Democratic primary, he started hitting on Jones. He made it a mainstay of his campaign fundraising efforts and stump speech to point out that Jones was part of a “fake” GOP presidential voters list designed to help Trump’s failed effort to overturning Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
“In fact, I believe in the rule of law. Burt doesn’t believe the rules apply to him,” Bailey said during a recent campaign stop.
Jones, 43, had previously been identified as a target by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in an investigation into his role as a fake voter in an attempt to help Trump nullify the 2020 election. The 16 GOP voters were initially identified as targets in the investigation to determine whether Trump and his allies committed a crime in their failed attempt to reverse Biden’s victory.
Jones successfully petitioned the court to block Willis, who organized a fundraising campaign for Bailey in June, and his office from investigating him. Another group of prosecutors will determine whether to subpoena Jones, classify him as a target of the investigation, or whether charges should ultimately be brought against him.
Jones left out the 2020 election in his recent public speeches.
Jones refuses to even mention Bailey’s name during campaign events.
“I’ll say this about him – he’s an angry little guy,” Jones said of Bailey. “Every time I see him, he is always very, very hostile and very agitated. So everyone is like, ‘Are you going to argue about him?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. I will discuss with him, but I prefer to pray for him. There’s no reason for him to go through life with so much anger.
Bailey grew up on a farm in Harris County that has been in her family for 100 years. He moved to the Atlanta area about 12 years ago.
Bailey previously served as an assistant district attorney in Fulton County and now works as an associate at a private law firm. He originally planned to make a second run for the attorney general’s office, but said he was persuaded by senior Democratic officials in January to move on to run for lieutenant governor.
“I’ve spent my career fighting for justice for people, whether it’s in the criminal justice system or the civil justice system,” Bailey said. “I think we need someone like that in the lieutenant governor’s office who fights for people who don’t have the money to hire the well-heeled lobbyist.”
Jones was co-captain of the University of Georgia on the 2002 team that won the SEC Football Championship. He is a sixth-generation Jackson native and still lives there with his wife and two children, Stella, 13, and Banks, 10.
Jones works for his family’s oil company, Jones Petroleum, as well as JP Capital Insurance, which he founded. He was first elected to the Senate in 2012.
“I have a reputation for doing exactly what I tell people I’m going to do,” Jones said. “Sometimes that means you have to say no to someone. And it’s a reputation I’m proud to have.
Graham, who until recently served as president of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, has lived in the state most of his life. He and his wife live in Atlanta with their 6-year-old daughter. Graham recently filed a lawsuit against the state challenging a law that allows a few candidates to collect unlimited campaign contributions through executive committees, saying it disadvantages hopefuls who are neither Republicans nor Democrats. The trial is ongoing.
Often half of libertarian positions on policy align with Republicans and half with Democrats, but Graham said there are stark differences.
“I think Republicans will generally say they’re small government in their rhetoric, but in practice they’re basically lying,” Graham said. “When I talk to some progressives, we’re ok with a lot of the issues, but they see a place where government can fix things and we see government as problematic in that way.”
Jones had vastly outperformed his Democratic and Libertarian opponents as of June 30, the most recent campaign reporting deadline. Jones had raised about $2.7 million since announcing his campaign last summer and loaned himself a total of $4 million.
Bailey said he raised about $65,000 in the last filing period, totaling about $1.1 million in contributions since announcing his campaign in January. Graham said he raised around $6,000 for his campaign.