Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory upends the political landscape in Georgia and transforms the debate on the state’s top policy divides. Here’s a look at some of the top winners and losers from the election.
Sen. David Perdue. He was Trump’s most enthusiastic high-profile supporter in Georgia, and now he could reap the rewards from his early support. Perdue is being mentioned as a potential Cabinet appointee as Commerce Secretary, though he dismissed the talk on Wednesday morning. He also could emerge as one of the Senate lawmakers negotiating deals between the Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress.
The entire Perdue operation. The Perdue machine won big last night. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue is tabbed as a potential Agriculture Secretary. Perdue aide Billy Kirkland ran Trump’s Georgia operation, securing a 5-point Georgia win even as Cobb, Gwinnett and Henry flipped to Hillary Clinton. Former Sonny Perdue top aide Nick Ayers is Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s right-hand man. And Paul Bennecke, another former Perdue aide who now runs the Republican Governors Association, presided over an operation that dominated gubernatorial races.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Once on the short-list as Trump’s running mate, Gingrich has been floated as a potential Secretary of State, chief of staff or senior administration official. He emerged as one of Trump’s top advisers throughout the tumultuous campaign, and one of his highest-profile surrogates.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price. The Roswell Republican may have a choice to make: stay in the House as one of the chamber’s most powerful Republicans, run for an open governor’s seat in 2018 or potentially serve in a Trump Cabinet. His name is making the rounds as a possible Department of Health and Human Services leader – where he could have a role in undoing Obamacare.
Trump die-hards. They kept promising a sweeping Republican victory that would defy both the polls and conventional wisdom. And they were right. Former Rep. Jack Kingston became one of his top talking-head surrogates. State Sen. Michael Williams boosted his national profile – and prepped for a likely run for higher office – with his Trump road trip. And take a look at former Trump Georgia director Seth Weathers pre-election prediction. He was eerily close to the mark.
Teachers unions. They poured more than $5 million into the campaign to defeat Gov. Nathan Deal’s failing schools initiative, and won a resounding victory.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. His lukewarm support of Trump didn’t seem to hurt him an iota at the polls, where he benefited from split-ticket Democratic support to avoid a runoff against Democrat Jim Barksdale.
Gov. Nathan Deal. On an otherwise glowing day for Republicans, Deal is now left to pick up the pieces after his schools initiative tanked. The polls predicted a huge defeat for months, and even Deal had floated the prospect of a Plan B. Still, after Deal’s vetoes of the “religious liberty” and “campus carry” measures, and now the defeat of his signature second-term plan, Democrats and other critics will slap the “lame duck” label on him.
Georgia Democrats. They flipped Henry, Gwinnett and – in a stunner – Cobb counties to Clinton’s camp and they narrowed a defeat from 8 points in 2012 to 6 points on Tuesday without significant funding from the nominee’s camp. But the party failed to field an effective candidate for the U.S. Senate race and got clobbered in the presidential race outside of metro Atlanta.
Jim Barksdale. The Atlanta investment manager stepped forward to challenge Isakson when no other Democrat would, and pumped more than $3 million of his own fortune into his campaign. His goal was to force a runoff against Isakson, but in the end he barely cracked 40 percent of the vote.
The Georgia JQC. The constitutional amendment abolishing the Judicial Qualifications Commission and then re-forming it under the control of the legislative branch overwhelming passed, despite opposition from state Sen. Josh McKoon and Lester Tate, the former chair of the judicial watchdog agency.
Cobb Republicans. Analysts expected Henry County to flip, and gave an outside shot of turning Gwinnett County blue. But few predicted the GOP stronghold of Cobb County, long one of the most reliably conservative metro Atlanta bastions, to turn to Clinton’s camp.
Transit opponents: Voters in the city of Atlanta overwhelmingly approved both a half-penny increase for MARTA and a four-tenths of a penny hike for transportation improvements over the objections of anti-tax opponents. It will fund the biggest mass transit expansion in decades.