Georgia's election this year will be a pivotal one, with a number of big names vying for high-profile positions statewide. But behind the blinding spotlight of the governor's race and the U.S. Senate contest, the rest of Georgia's constitutional officer positions up for vote.
Georgia will get new commissioners of agriculture, labor and insurance, three positions that have a heavy hand in regulating different aspects of the state. Each leads the state's department in its respective field, and the responsibilities of each office are far-reaching.
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The Dept. of Agriculture regulates and monitors most food-related issues, from which pesticides are allowed for farming to acceptable practices in bottling and food processing plants. But also extends to gas station pump calibration and regulating pet breeders, and a wide berth of other issues.
The commissioner of Insurance monitors insurance companies, provides licensing services to insurance agents and regulates industrial loan officers. The office also answers questions and complaints regarding specific insurance providers and rates.
The Labor commissioner is responsible for implementing the state's workforce regulations and operating Georgia's unemployment insurance and rehabilitation programs.
Each position comes with a four-year term.
The primaries will be held on May 24, with early voting beginning May 2.
Here’s a look at the candidates.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Republican Tyler Harper
Currently the State Senator for District 6, the Republican farmer from Ocilla says he is looking to keep liberal influence out of Georgia. He says if elected, he will “ensure our food supplies are kept safe, making sure that our families are fed. He will always put Georgia agriculture first and fight the overreach of Washington, D.C.”
Current Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black is not running to keep his seat, mounting a run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Raphael Warnock instead.
Democrat Winfred Dukes
Dukes has served as the representative for District 154 since 1997. He is chief executive officer of Dukes, Edwards and Dukes, Inc., based in Albany, Georgia and an consultant in the food service and restaurant industries.
Democrat Nakita Hemingway
Hemingway works as an entrepreneur, realtor and cut-flower farmer. She says if elected, she will build a world-class food system that enables Georgia farmers to become more profitable. Hemingway ran for Georgia House District 104 in 2020, but lost.
Democrat Fred Swann
Swann was the Democratic Nominee for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018, but lost. Swann is an entrepreneur and a small business owner, running Out of the Box Farms in Gainesville.
Commissioner of Insurance
Republican John King
The incumbent, King was appointed as the insurance commissioner in 2019, after Jim Beck was suspended from the position. King served as the Doraville police chief for seventeen years. King said he hopes to “restore trust in the Department of Insurance, eliminate corruption, and advance policies that put consumers ahead of the special interests.”
Republican Patrick Witt
A legal consultant from Atlanta, Witt worked as deputy chief of staff and acting chief of staff in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under the Trump administration. He also served on President Trump’s post-election legal team in Georgia.
Democrat Raphael Baker
Baker is an insurance salesman and author who says he will advocate for reasonable insurance rates if elected. He hopes to work with legislators to bring affordable healthcare to the people of Georgia, provide equitable insurance rates for Black Georgians, and lower car insurance premiums.
Democrat Janice Laws Robinson
Robinson ran for insurance commissioner in 2018, and lost with 47% of the vote. Robinson says if elected she will make sure “there is a pathway for all our families to be included at the level of the Commissioner’s Office in a reliable and sustainable way.”
Democrat Matthew Wilson
Wilson has been the District 80 representative in the Georgia House since 2019. He says if elected, he hopes to lower monthly bills and provide better coverage for Georgians. He also supports the expansion of Medicaid.
Commissioner of Labor
Republican Mike Coan
Coan served as the representative for District 101 in the Georgia House from 1997 to 2011. He currently serves as deputy commissioner in the Department of Labor. He is a member of the Childrens Make-a-wish Foundation, Gwinett Young Republicans, Hebron Baptist Church and the Special Olympics.
Republican Bruce Thompson
Thompson is a member of the Georgia State Senate, representing District 14, a position he has held since 2013. Thompson has introduced and signed controversial legislation in 2022, including a bill that would require women to see doctors in person before receiving a specific abortion pill, and Georgia’s iteration of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Current Labor Commissioner Mark Butler decided not to run for the position again this year, citing "new opportunities" and saying he wants to focus on his family.
Democrat Nicole Horn
Horn worked previously as a political fundraiser and media consultant, and worked in public radio and TV news. In 2002, she and her husband built a buisness that "helped colleges and universites develop programs to train and retrain the workforce." She says she hopes to improve the disbersement of unemplyment benefits, create mobile career centers and introduce apprenticeship programs in tandem with teh Technical College System of Georgia.
Democrat Will Boddie
Boddie is the current state representative for Georgia House District 62, and has held the seat since 2017. Boddie has been a member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the South Fulton and Douglas County Chamber of Commerce, the Douglas County Small Business Society, the City of Douglasville Housing Committee, and the Douglas County Democratic Party.
Democrat Lester Jackson
The state senator from Savannah has held his position for the last 14 years and says he’s running to expand Medicaid and improve the public-facing side of the labor department. Jackson cited constituent issues with delayed unemployment checks and communication woes from the labor department.
Will Peebles is the enterprise reporter for Savannah Morning News. He can be reached at email@example.com and @willpeeblessmn on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Agriculture, Labor and Insurance Commissioner in the GA 2022 elections