U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson fended off Vernon Jones and Connie Stokes in the Democratic primary July 20 and will face Republican Liz Carter in November’s general election.
Johnson narrowly avoided a runoff for the 4th congressional district that could have pitted him against Jones, a former DeKalb County CEO, or Stokes, a county commissioner and former state senator. He won more than 55 percent of the vote in the primary with 65 percent of district precincts reporting. Jones took about 27 percent of the vote, and Stokes earned approximately 18 percent.
The results are unofficial, however, until the secretary of state certifies them during the week of July 26.
Carter, a business consultant and Johnson’s November opponent, soundly defeated her fellow Republican challengers, grabbing 54.9 percent of the vote. Larry Gause earned 25.3 percent, Victor Armendariz won 10.1 percent and Cory Ruth a won 9.7 percent.
Johnson faced several concerns as he campaigned to keep his seat. He revealed late last year he suffers from Hepatitis C, an infectious liver disease that required he undergo treatment through February. He was also one of few Georgia congressmen who faced challengers in their own party. Democratic Reps. John Lewis, Sanford Bishop and Jim Marshall skated through the primaries unopposed.
Johnson was also briefly the center of an Internet video sensation after he said during a House committee meeting in March he feared the expansion of a U.S. military base on the island of Guam might capsize the entire territory. He later said the comment was a joke, but critics used the video’s viral popularity to question his competency.
Despite those challenges, Johnson was absent from several debates and political forums held throughout the county, including one held by The Champion Newspaper last month.
On the fundraising front, Johnson buried both his Democratic and Republican challengers, federal elections data show. Johnson raised about $439,035. Jones raised the second most with $37,570. Stokes had a war chest of about $50,000, $17,000 of which she contributed herself. All of Johnson’s Republican challengers combined raised about $65,000, $48,000 of which was given to Carter.
County residents cast votes in two other congressional races. Long-time Rep. John Lewis faced no Democratic challengers for the fifth congressional district. As of press time in the Republican corner, Fenn Little had about 58 percent of the vote over Kelly Nguyen.
In the 13th congressional district, Rep. David Scott defeated his Democratic challengers Mike Murphy and Michael Frisbee in a landslide, taking about 77 percent of the vote. Which Republican he will face in November was unclear as of press time though Mike Crane was leading five challengers with about 30 percent of the vote.