ATLANTA (AP) -- While some Georgia candidates have been campaigning and raising money for nearly a year, the 2022 election field will solidify this week as major party candidates officially qualify.
Democrats and Republicans will line up at the state capitol in Atlanta to file papers to run for office from Monday through noon Friday, launching an 11-week sprint to the May 24 party primaries.
At the top of the ticket are races for governor and U.S. senator. On the Democratic side, Stacey Abrams has no announced opposition for governor, while incumbent Republican Brian Kemp is trying to fend off multiple challengers including former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
Raphael Warnock so far has only little-known Democratic primary opposition as he seeks to win a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate, while on the Republican side, football great Herschel Walker tops a field of contenders including Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Navy veteran and banker Latham Saddler, contractor Kelvin King and state Rep. Josh Clark.
Warnock and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff won their seats in runoffs in 2021, the first time Democrats had won statewide office in more than a decade. They followed President Joe Biden's win of Georgia's 16 electoral votes, the first time a Democrat had won the state since 1992. But Warnock, Abrams and other Democrats could face headwinds this year, with approval ratings for Biden and other Democrats sagging.
Also on the ballot are seven other statewide offices, two Public Service Commission posts, 14 congressional seats, 56 state Senate seats and 180 state House seats.
Black, Lt. Gov Geoff Duncan and Labor Commissioner Mark Butler are not seeking reelection to their posts. More than three dozen House members and at least nine senators are also not expected to seek reelection, although many of those officials plan to run for other offices.
For members of Congress and the General Assembly, it will be the first election under new district lines drawn following the 2020 U.S. Census. Those lines are likely to aid Republicans in adding a ninth congressional seat, up from the eight current Georgia seats they hold, as U.S. Rep Lucy McBath exits the 6th District to run in the 7th District. McBath is challenging a fellow Democratic incumbent, Carolyn Bourdeaux, in what could be the highest-profile Democratic primary this year.
In the General Assembly, Democrats are likely to pick up some seats, but many races are likely to be less competitive, as majority Republicans redrew lines to fortify their hold on enough seats to maintain majorities in the House and Senate. Congressional and legislative lines are being challenged in lawsuits.
There could be some surprises, though, as candidates enter and exit races. In recent weeks, for example, Republican Patrick Witt has shifted from running for the 10 Congressional District to seeking election as state insurance commissioner. And Gwinnett County Board of Education member Everton Blair has dropped his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for state superintendent.
Party runoffs will be June 21 if needed, followed by the general election on Nov. 8.