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Fani Willis and judge presiding over Georgia Trump election case defeat challengers

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Fani Willis and judge presiding over Georgia Trump election case defeat challengers
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Fani Willis and judge presiding over Georgia Trump election case defeat challengers

2024-05-22 10:09 Last Updated At:10:10

ATLANTA (AP) — Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who brought a sprawling racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and others, has won the Democratic primary in her bid for reelection.

Willis defeated progressive attorney Christian Wise Smith in the primary election and is now set to face off against Republican Courtney Kramer in the fall. Willis told reporters after her victory that the voters sent a message that “people want a DA that is just, that treats everybody equally and that works hard, and they know that they have that in me.”

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks after winning re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

ATLANTA (AP) — Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who brought a sprawling racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and others, has won the Democratic primary in her bid for reelection.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to the media after winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to the media after winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks after winning re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks after winning re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens takes a photograph with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis before she speaks and after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens takes a photograph with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis before she speaks and after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates with supporters after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates with supporters after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

In this photo combination of file images, Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, left, while Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March, 1, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photos/Alex Slitz)

In this photo combination of file images, Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, left, while Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March, 1, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photos/Alex Slitz)

Meanwhile, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, the judge who was randomly assigned to preside over the election interference case, also fended off a challenger, winning a nonpartisan election to keep his seat.

The Trump election case and racketeering cases against well-known rappers have boosted Willis’ public profile. But on Tuesday night she touted her efforts to fight violent crime by being tough on gang members while also saying she worked to give second chances to first offenders and created programs to catch at-risk youth before they get caught up in the criminal justice system.

“The people said yes to justice. The people said yes to safety. The people said yes to integrity. The people said yes to Fani Willis," Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said to applause Tuesday night at Willis' victory party.

With her name recognition, the advantages of incumbency and a hefty fundraising haul, Willis’ victory in the primary was not terribly surprising. As she moves on to the general election, the odds would seem to be in her favor as well. Fulton County includes most of the city of Atlanta and is heavily Democratic, about 73% of its voters having cast ballots for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

But Willis was taking nothing for granted after her primary win, telling supporters, “The campaign does not end tonight. It begins tonight.”

“My opponent is completely unqualified,” she said, later adding, “But while she is inexperienced and unqualified and does not represent the values of my county, don't get confused. She is a real threat because of who backs her and how they back her.”

Willis urged her supporters to continue to back her financially, noting that there was a store selling campaign merchandise onsite during her victory party.

Kramer, who has ties to some of Trump’s most prominent allies in Georgia and has drawn campaign contributions from both the county and state Republican parties, told reporters when she qualified to run that the Trump indictment prompted her to challenge Willis. In a post on the social media platform X earlier this month, she wrote, “The future of Fulton and safety in our community should not be controlled by self-interested politicians who use their office for political law fare. It’s time for a change.”

McAfee has been on the bench since last year when Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to fill an empty seat. He has since become one of the most high-profile judges in Georgia since he was randomly assigned last year to preside over the election interference case. With the added advantages of incumbency, strong bipartisan backing from heavy hitters and an impressive fundraising haul, he was the likely favorite to win.

Willis and Smith both worked in the Fulton County district attorney’s office under then-District Attorney Paul Howard. They both challenged their former boss in the Democratic primary in 2020. Willis and Howard advanced to a runoff that she won, and she ran unopposed in the November general election that year.

Kramer ran unopposed in the Republican primary Tuesday and has already been focusing her attention on attacking Willis. A lawyer who interned in the Trump White House, she has ties to some of the former president's prominent allies in Georgia.

Kramer and her backers will undoubtedly continue to focus on what even some of Willis' closest allies have seen as a major misstep — her romantic relationship with a special prosecutor she hired for the election case. Claims by defense attorneys in the case that the romance created a conflict of interest threatened to derail the prosecution.

McAfee ultimately ruled that it did not create a conflict of interest that should disqualify Willis, but he said she could only continue the case if the special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, stepped aside. Wade promptly left the case, but a defense appeal of McAfee's ruling is now pending before the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Wade was among those gathered at an event space in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood Tuesday evening to celebrate Willis' win.

Willis obtained an indictment in August against Trump and 18 others, accusing them of participating in an alleged illegal scheme to overturn Trump's narrow loss in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Four people have pleaded guilty after reaching deals with prosecutors. Trump and the 14 others who remain have pleaded not guilty.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks after winning re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks after winning re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to the media after winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to the media after winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks after winning re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks after winning re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens takes a photograph with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis before she speaks and after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens takes a photograph with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis before she speaks and after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates with supporters after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis celebrates with supporters after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis arrives before she speaks after winning re-election in the primary on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Buckhead, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

In this photo combination of file images, Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, left, while Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March, 1, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photos/Alex Slitz)

In this photo combination of file images, Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court, left, while Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, right, looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March, 1, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photos/Alex Slitz)

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Movie Review: A new generation drives into the storm in rousing ‘Twisters’

2024-07-18 01:15 Last Updated At:01:22

We have a complex relationship with disaster movies. Just look at the discussion about a “ Twisters ” poster, which became a perfect encapsulation of our love-hate tendencies.

In the promo for the film, in theaters Thursday, actors Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell and Anthony Ramos are standing in front a massive, menacing cyclone. It not only contains various objects swirling in mid-air, from houses to trucks, but also appears to be on fire. Some people wondered why the stars weren’t looking at said tornado. Others said if you’re asking questions like why the tornado is on fire, this movie isn’t for you.

Both lines of thought can be true though. Maybe their coexistence is essential. This makes no sense! Also, sign me up immediately! Disaster movies are almost required to be graded on a curve. And filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung’s entry into the canon is perfectly paradoxical.

It might not be fair, or rational, but there is something about the genre that inspires otherwise reasonable moviegoers to giddily give themselves over to a wild premise — the more ridiculous and illogical the better. There is something to be said about the joy of collective laughter where there wasn’t an intentional joke, or a spirited post-movie debate about the flawed logistics of a plan and exactly how many people have died from being sucked into a tornado. These are the movies that are hard to see clearly the first time but tend to become sneaky favorites over the years.

Such is the case with “Twister,” Jan de Bont’s film about storm chasing and remarriage. The modern collective love for it would probably surprise even the critics who reviewed it favorably in 1996. Part of that is certainly the fact that in the 28 years since it was released we lost both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Paxton. But it’s also just fun to watch with fresh eyes, to see the internet remember (or realize for the first time) that one of the storm chasers was played by Todd Field, the man who would go on to write and direct “Tár.” I re-watched it recently on plane and had a blast. I’d forgotten the insane opening but remembered Dusty’s impassioned foot chant.

There’s been a lot of cautious optimism surrounding “Twisters” that’s felt different from a lot of the reboots and “new chapters” (anything to avoid calling it a sequel) that have come and gone in recent years. Audiences are craving something big and fun, but worried that it won’t live up to their idea of what it should be. This is inherently flawed because “Twister” has earned its reputation, its quotability, across many viewings and many years. “Twisters” we’re just meeting. It’s hard to get too excited about a first date.

But Chung, a filmmaker best known for the comparatively small “Minari,” has made a solid film with escalating action sequences that look great on the big screen. There is once again a crazy opening that gives Edgar-Jones’ tornado-obsessed Kate a trauma origin story. Her hubris in thinking she could “tame” a tornado with science backfired and people died; But five years later her old friend Javi (Ramos) convinces her to come back to Oklahoma’s Tornado Alley to attempt a different kind of study.

The story is credited to Joseph Kosinski (who was once going to direct) and the screenplay to Mark L. Smith (“The Revenant”) and none of them can get the original out of their heads. Yes, these are all new characters (including Powell’s YouTube star storm wrangler Tyler) and the only real connection to the first movie is that the Dorothy technology exists. But it is so referential as to be distracting: Literal lines of dialogue (“I’m not back”); An attempt to make Tyler’s crew a gang of Dustys (which underserves actors like Sasha Lane and Katy O’Brian); Making David Corenswet wear what’s essentially a recreation of Carey Elwes’ baseball cap and earpiece. Don’t they want us to think of “Twisters” on its own terms?

But Chung clearly also had a vision, attempting to ground the insanity in a real place with regionally appropriate styles and music, and deeper characterization. The supporting players were thoughtfully cast. Its leads, Powell and Edgar-Jones, are endlessly watchable with palpable chemistry, even as they’re monologuing about sodium polyacrylate.

I wish I had the ability to know how “Twisters” will play 28 years from now, in 2052. Will the 12-year-olds seeing it this weekend go back to it as a comfort watch? Will it feel like it was part of the good old days of big studio movie making? Right now, it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s destined for that kind of longevity. And I’d love nothing more than to be wrong about that.

“Twisters,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association for “intense action and peril, injury images, some language.” Running time: 122 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Sasha Lane, left, and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Sasha Lane, left, and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, from left, Anthony Ramos and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, from left, Anthony Ramos and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, from left, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Maura Tierney in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, from left, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Maura Tierney in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Harry Hadden-Paton in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Harry Hadden-Paton in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Brandon Perea, from left, Harry Hadden-Paton and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Brandon Perea, from left, Harry Hadden-Paton and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, left, and Anthony Ramos in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, left, and Anthony Ramos in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, right, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, right, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

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