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Georgia Justice Andrew Pinson beats challenger as 2 Republicans head to runoff in open US House seat

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Georgia Justice Andrew Pinson beats challenger as 2 Republicans head to runoff in open US House seat
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Georgia Justice Andrew Pinson beats challenger as 2 Republicans head to runoff in open US House seat

2024-05-22 12:14 Last Updated At:12:20

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia state Supreme Court incumbent has won an election that was unusually heated by the standards of the state's nonpartisan judicial elections, while voters in the state also advanced a former Donald Trump aide and a former state Senate majority leader to a GOP runoff for an open seat in the strongly Republican 3rd Congressional District.

Two Democratic congressional incumbents — U.S. Reps. David Scott and Lucy McBath — defeated primary challengers in metro Atlanta districts that were redrawn by Republicans after redistricting lawsuits.

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FILE - Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott speaks to reporters, March 4, 2024, at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, after qualifying to run for reelection to Congress in suburban Atlanta's 13th Congressional District. Scott beat six Democratic primary opponents in Georgia's elections on Tuesday, May 21, as he seeks a 12th congressional term. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia state Supreme Court incumbent has won an election that was unusually heated by the standards of the state's nonpartisan judicial elections, while voters in the state also advanced a former Donald Trump aide and a former state Senate majority leader to a GOP runoff for an open seat in the strongly Republican 3rd Congressional District.

FILE - Rep. Lucy McBath D-GA poses for photographers as she arrives at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, Saturday, April 27, 2024. U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath has beaten two Democratic primary opponents to clinch the nomination in her second new district in two years. McBath has overcome Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, file)

FILE - Rep. Lucy McBath D-GA poses for photographers as she arrives at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, Saturday, April 27, 2024. U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath has beaten two Democratic primary opponents to clinch the nomination in her second new district in two years. McBath has overcome Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, file)

FILE - Republican Jim Bennett listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on, April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Bennett and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE - Republican Jim Bennett listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on, April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Bennett and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE- Republican Philip Singleton listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Singleton and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE- Republican Philip Singleton listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Singleton and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Dugan speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Dugan and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Dugan speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Dugan and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Crane listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Crane and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Crane listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Crane and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE - Republican Brian Jack speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Jack and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE - Republican Brian Jack speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Jack and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – John Barrow speaks to a Democratic group in Hoschton, Ga., on April 15, 2024, seeking support in his race for the Georgia Supreme Court. Voters are deciding the race between the Democratic former congressman and incumbent Justice Andrew Pinson in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy, File)

FILE – John Barrow speaks to a Democratic group in Hoschton, Ga., on April 15, 2024, seeking support in his race for the Georgia Supreme Court. Voters are deciding the race between the Democratic former congressman and incumbent Justice Andrew Pinson in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy, File)

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson poses, April 17, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are deciding the race between Pinson and Democratic former congressman John Barrow in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson poses, April 17, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are deciding the race between Pinson and Democratic former congressman John Barrow in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Voters depart an election center during primary voting, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Kennesaw, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Voters depart an election center during primary voting, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Kennesaw, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Parties were also choosing their nominees for other congressional and state legislative seats and local offices including sheriffs, district attorneys and county commissioners.

Runoffs will be held June 18 in races where candidates didn't win a majority.

Here's a look at key races:

Georgia state Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson defeated a challenge from former U.S. Rep. John Barrow in the general election for judicial candidates, who run without party labels.

The 37-year-old Pinson won a six-year term after Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to the nine-member court in 2022. The 69-year-old Barrow made support for abortion rights central to his campaign. Pinson said discussing issues would weaken confidence that he could judge fairly, and he warned of making judicial campaigns too political.

“Tonight the voters of Georgia voiced their desire for a fair and impartial judiciary,” Pinson said in a statement.

Kemp and other conservatives intervened to aid Pinson in a race that grew heated by the usually sleepy standards of Georgia’s judicial elections. Barrow unsuccessfully sued in federal court, saying a state judicial agency was violating his free-speech rights. The agency warned Barrow his claim that Georgians have a right to abortion under the state constitution might be violating judicial ethics. Barrow, in a statement after his loss, said he remains committed to his view that the Georgia Constitution protects abortion rights.

“The people who have spoken up on the issue of abortion rights agree with me, and so the issue remains to be decided, first by the Supreme Court and ultimately by the people,” Barrow said in a statement.

Justices Michael Boggs, John Ellington and Nels Peterson were unopposed. Six judges on the Georgia Court of Appeals are also unopposed, while Jeff Davis beat Tabitha Ponder for an open seat on the court.

Former Donald Trump aide Brian Jack and Mike Dugan, the former Georgia state Senate majority leader, advanced to a runoff for the GOP nomination in Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District south and west of Atlanta.

Jack also worked for former U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He parlayed Trump’s endorsement and his Washington contacts into a fundraising lead in his first run for office. On the stump, Jack emphasized his close ties to Trump at every opportunity.

“We're excited to share our message and grow our campaign even more over the next few weeks,” Jack said in a statement.

Dugan emphasized Republican legislative achievements when he was in the post, including cutting taxes, imposing sharp restrictions on abortion, shortening the period to request an absentee ballot and limiting ballot drop boxes.

“Mike is all in,” said spokesperson Jen Talaber Ryan. “His proven track record and deep roots in the community make him the best voice and strongest choice for west Georgians.”

The seat is open because Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson is stepping down after four terms. The Republican nominee will be the favorite in a strongly GOP district south and west of Atlanta in November, facing the winner of the Democratic primary, Maura Keller.

Scott beat six Democratic primary opponents to advance to the general election as he seeks a 12th congressional term in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District that was significantly reconfigured in a new map.

Challengers attacked the 78-year-old Scott as too old and out of touch, but those claims never gained traction with voters. Scott said in March that he’s seeking another term to enhance funding for historically Black colleges such as Fort Valley State University, and to provide more assistance to struggling homeowners.

Among Scott’s primary opponents were Marcus Flowers, who raised $17 million to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in another district in 2022, and former East Point City Councilmember Karen René. Scott will face the winner of the Republican primary, Jonathan Chavez, in November.

McBath beat two Democratic primary opponents to clinch the nomination in her second new district in two years.

She overcame Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. Mandisha Thomas, who both claimed they could better represent the new 6th District. Republican lawmakers drew the district, which wraps around the west side of metro Atlanta, after a court ordered new maps to remedy discrimination against Black voters.

Republican Jeff Criswell will oppose her in November.

McBath was first elected in 2018 in a district that covered Atlanta’s inner northern suburbs. After a new map in 2022 added more Republicans to that district, McBath jumped to a district that included parts of Gwinnett and Fulton counties. There, she defeated fellow Democratic incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux in a primary.

McBath, whose son was shot to death, has made gun control and reducing gun violence her primary focus. She also says she wants to work on reducing health care disparities in another term.

“Twice, extremist Georgia Republicans tried to bend the rules and draw me out of Congress,” McBath said in a statement. “Twice, Georgians have stood with me and resoundingly voted to send me back to Congress.”

Two years ago, Republicans had hoped they had a chance to defeat 16-term Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop Jr. in southwest Georgia's 2nd District. But Bishop won that election easily. Now two more Republicans will go to a runoff hoping to take a shot a Bishop, who was unopposed on the Democratic ballot.

Advancing to the runoff are Wayne Johnson, of Macon, and Chuck Hand, of Butler. Johnson was an official in the U.S. Education Department under Trump and finished third in the Republican primary two years ago, Hand is a Taylor County Republican Party official and construction superintendent who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for illegally demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation.

Johnson and Hand beat Michael Nixon, of Thomasville, a hospital purchasing director and Air Force veteran, and Regina “Reggie” Liparoto, of Columbus, a longtime conservative activist.

Two Democrats in northwest Georgia's 14th District will compete in a runoff for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has no GOP opposition.

Advancing to the runoff are consultant Clarence Blalock, of Hiram, and retired Army general Shawn Harris, of Cedartown. They beat sales manager Deric Houston, of Dallas, and business manager Joseph Leigh, of Rossville. Harris has by far raised the most money of the four.

For most candidates, their top issue is their distaste for Greene, a top ally of Trump who recently failed in an effort to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson. The winner will have an uphill fight in a heavily Republican district. Two years ago, Democrat Marcus Flowers raised more than $16 million in his challenge to Greene but still lost badly.

Republican U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, the only other incumbent facing a primary challenge, beat retired banker and longtime Republican activist Lori Marie Pesta and retired airline pilot Mike Pons in the 11th Congressional District northwest of Atlanta. Kate Stamper won the Democratic nomination against Antonio Daza.

Democrats chose Darrius Butler to challenge Republican incumbent Austin Scott in south and middle Georgia's 8th District. In northeast Georgia's 10th District, they chose Lexy Doherty to challenge incumbent Mike Collins. And Democrat Elizabeth Johnson will face incumbent Republican Rick Allen for a third time in the 12th District around Augusta.

FILE - Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott speaks to reporters, March 4, 2024, at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, after qualifying to run for reelection to Congress in suburban Atlanta's 13th Congressional District. Scott beat six Democratic primary opponents in Georgia's elections on Tuesday, May 21, as he seeks a 12th congressional term. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy, File)

FILE - Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott speaks to reporters, March 4, 2024, at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, after qualifying to run for reelection to Congress in suburban Atlanta's 13th Congressional District. Scott beat six Democratic primary opponents in Georgia's elections on Tuesday, May 21, as he seeks a 12th congressional term. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy, File)

FILE - Rep. Lucy McBath D-GA poses for photographers as she arrives at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, Saturday, April 27, 2024. U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath has beaten two Democratic primary opponents to clinch the nomination in her second new district in two years. McBath has overcome Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, file)

FILE - Rep. Lucy McBath D-GA poses for photographers as she arrives at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, Saturday, April 27, 2024. U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath has beaten two Democratic primary opponents to clinch the nomination in her second new district in two years. McBath has overcome Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, file)

FILE - Republican Jim Bennett listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on, April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Bennett and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE - Republican Jim Bennett listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on, April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Bennett and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE- Republican Philip Singleton listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Singleton and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE- Republican Philip Singleton listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Singleton and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Dugan speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Dugan and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Dugan speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Dugan and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Crane listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Crane and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – Republican Mike Crane listens at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Crane and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE - Republican Brian Jack speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Jack and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE - Republican Brian Jack speaks at the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are choosing between Jack and four other Republicans in a primary to decide the GOP nominee on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen, File)

FILE – John Barrow speaks to a Democratic group in Hoschton, Ga., on April 15, 2024, seeking support in his race for the Georgia Supreme Court. Voters are deciding the race between the Democratic former congressman and incumbent Justice Andrew Pinson in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy, File)

FILE – John Barrow speaks to a Democratic group in Hoschton, Ga., on April 15, 2024, seeking support in his race for the Georgia Supreme Court. Voters are deciding the race between the Democratic former congressman and incumbent Justice Andrew Pinson in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy, File)

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson poses, April 17, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are deciding the race between Pinson and Democratic former congressman John Barrow in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson poses, April 17, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are deciding the race between Pinson and Democratic former congressman John Barrow in a nonpartisan general election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Voters depart an election center during primary voting, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Kennesaw, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Voters depart an election center during primary voting, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Kennesaw, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A man who once described himself as “king” of a notoriously violent gang in Haiti and is linked to the kidnapping of 16 U.S. citizens was sentenced to 35 years in prison Monday in a federal court in Washington, D.C.

Germine Joly, best known as “Yonyon,” had pleaded guilty in late January to weapons smuggling and the laundering of ransoms related to the U.S. citizens kidnapped in October 2021, bringing his trial to a halt.

The case against Joly is part of an ongoing push by U.S. authorities to stem the smuggling of weapons from the U.S. to Haiti, where gangs control 80% of the capital and have left more than 580,000 people homeless as they continue to pillage neighborhoods in a quest to seize more territory. U.S. officials also are trying to crack down on the kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Haiti, whose ransoms finance the purchase of illegal arms and ammunition.

“The leaders of violent gangs in Haiti that terrorize Americans citizens in order to fuel their criminal activity will be met with the full force of the Justice Department," U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

Joly, 31, had asked the judge for leniency and forgiveness, with his attorneys requesting that he receive no more than 17.5 years in prison. The attorneys did not immediately return messages for comment.

Joly was co-leader of the 400 Mawozo, which translates roughly to “400 Simpletons,” one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs. It controls part of Croix-des-Bouquets, a neighborhood in the eastern region of the Port-au-Prince capital and surrounding areas. It also operates along a route that connects the capital with the border city of Jimaní in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

The gang is known for its high record of kidnappings as well as trafficking of drugs and weapons, killings, rapes and armed robberies, among other things, according to a U.N. report.

“The 400 Mawazo gang not only wreaks havoc in its own communities but targets innocent Americans living and traveling in Haiti," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

Three shipments containing smuggled weapons and ammunition arrived in Haiti in 2021, shortly before the gang kidnapped 17 missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens, the U.N. report noted. The weapons alone were estimated to cost roughly $28,000, it added.

“This single case indicates that 400 Mawozo is able to mobilize significant amounts of money to acquire firearms and ammunition,” the report stated.

The gang is still led by Joseph Wilson, best known as “Lanmò San Jou,” which means “Death has no date,” and it is an ally of G-Pep, a powerful gang federation.

Haitian authorities announced a warrant for Wilson in late 2020, but he has yet to be detained.

Meanwhile, Haitian police arrested Joly in 2014, and in 2018, a local judge sentenced him to life in prison, from where authorities said he still directed gang operations, including the October 2021 kidnapping of 12 adults and five minors after they visited an orphanage in the Croix-des-Bouquets area. The group included 16 Americans and one Canadian who worked with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.

The organization said 12 of the captive missionaries escaped, with five others previously freed, although it’s unclear if any ransom was paid.

In 2022, the U.S. government extradited Joly.

Joly’s former girlfriend, Eliande Tunis of Pompano Beach, Florida, had been sentenced earlier this month to 12.5 years in prison. Tunis, 46, had pleaded guilty in late January to the same charges Joly faced.

U.S. federal prosecutors had accused Joly, Tunis and two other suspects of buying and supplying weapons to the 400 Mawozo gang from at least March through November 2021. The weapons included those designed for “military and close-quarters combat” such as AK-47s, AR-15s and a .50 caliber rifle, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The agency said that Joly, who was in prison in Haiti at the time, directed operations using unmonitored cell phones. He still faces separate charges in another case related to the kidnappings of the U.S. citizens.

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

US judge sentences Germine Joly, former leader of a powerful gang in Haiti, to 35 years in prison

FILE - Kenya police patrol the streets of Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Hundreds of Kenyan police officers are leaving for Haiti, where they will lead a multinational force against powerful gangs. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

FILE - Kenya police patrol the streets of Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Hundreds of Kenyan police officers are leaving for Haiti, where they will lead a multinational force against powerful gangs. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

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