Digital editor Myrydd Wells (pronounced "merith") joined the Atlanta magazine staff as digital producer in late 2013. Previously she worked at the Naples Daily News in Florida and in her hometown of Indianapolis as an intern and later contributing editor for Indianapolis Monthly magazine. A proud alumna of Indiana University Bloomington, she enjoys writing about pop culture, television, local events, animals, internet sensations, and anything offbeat.
“Look at what happened with the NBA, as well. Look what’s happened across the board. The very people who were victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports, and it’s just not right,” he said.
As of Friday afternoon, that decision is now official, with MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. issuing a statement:
“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.
Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.
We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season’s All-Star festivities. In addition, MLB’s planned investments to support local communities in Atlanta as part of our All-Star Legacy Projects will move forward. We are finalizing a new host city and details about these events will be announced shortly.”
The bill also reduced the time that voters can request a mail-in ballot from 180 days before an election to 11 weeks and requires a driver’s license/state ID number to be added to ballots and ballot requests; requires that ballot drop boxes be placed inside early voting locations and be available only during those early voting hours; and while the bill does expand early voting hours and added an additional Saturday, it shortens the time available for early voting before runoff elections.
The bill also removes the Secretary of State as the chair of the five-member State Elections Board (which also contains a member picked by the House, Senate, and both Democratic and Republican parties respectively), replacing them with a chair that must be appointed by the House and Senate. (The governor is to appoint someone for this role when the legislature is not in session; the 2021 legislative session ended this week.) The State Election Board now has more power over county election boards, giving the state board the ability to request a performance review, commissioned by an independent group, of a county elections boards and temporarily suspend ones that are “underperforming,” replacing them with a single person for at least nine months.
There has been mounting pressure for Atlanta-based companies to speak up in light of the bill’s signing on March 25, with some critics calling for boycotts. Both Delta and Coca-Cola released statements on March 31 calling the laws “unacceptable.” Microsoft, which is expanding in Atlanta, has also denounced the bill. Stacey Abrams told the AJC this week she thinks companies should not “yet” be boycotted, but that companies should speak out against the bill and invest in voting rights expansion and support federal voting rights expansion. After the MLB announced its decision on the All-Star Game, she tweeted, “Disappointed @MLB will move the All-Star Game, but proud of their stance on voting rights. GA GOP traded economic opportunity for suppression. On behalf of PoC targeted by #SB202 to lose votes + now wages, I urge events & productions to come & speak out or stay & fight.”
Governor Kemp released a statement saying, “Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies.” In the statement, Kemp and House Speaker David Ralston pointed blame directly at Abrams and President Biden.
The Braves released a statement saying they were “deeply disappointed” in the decision, writing, “This was neither our decision nor our recommendation, and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city. The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities, and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion. Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times, and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.”
Over four decades, Jonathan Waxman has built a small empire of convivial Cali-Italian restaurants, notably Manhattan’s iconic Barbuto. If the name of that restaurant (“bearded” in Italian) nods at Waxman’s now gray facial hair, his newest—Baffi—salutes the mustache. Situated in the old Donetto space in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood, Baffi is a leaner version of Waxman’s Ponce City Market restaurant Brezza Cucina, which closed in 2020. What’s amazing is how effortless he makes it all seem. True maturity, the art of not doing too much or too little, is in evidence everywhere—in Baffi’s modern-rustic look, its talented staff, and a menu that includes the same wonderful roast chicken with warm salsa verde (fresh herbs, capers, and garlic in extra-virgin olive oil) and crisp rosemary potatoes Waxman has served at his restaurants for as long as I can remember. Also on offer: a couple of simple but perfect wood-oven pizzas, one topped with burrata, burst tomatoes, and basil; roasted oysters with breadcrumbs; trout cooked in cast iron; and a dish of astonishingly tender and eerily smooth pork and veal meatballs served over rich mascarpone grits. The wines, including options from small producers in Italy’s Friuli and Abruzzo regions, are eminently drinkable. The patio scene is civilized. A pantry just inside the restaurant’s entrance, meanwhile, sells some of the same products the kitchen uses. 976 Brady Avenue, Westside, 404-724-9700 —CL
What’s apparent as you enter this new barbecue restaurant deep in the heart of Tucker: Someone here loves both Texas (as evidenced by the giant Tito’s vodka sign and the powerful scent of beef brisket greeting you at the door) and Ford automotive memorabilia. Like other restaurants from the same ownership group (Local No. 7 across the street, Stratford Pub in Avondale Estates), this spot feels mainstream cozy. Of course, you can order Saint Louis ribs by the rack and chopped pork by the pound, but the main deal at Ford’s is the beef. Answer the classic brisket questions (fat or lean? sliced or chopped?) and you are on your way to meat heaven. My standard answer is half and half and, of course, sliced. I don’t normally care to slather barbecue sauce on smoked meats, but Ford’s marvelously tangy and balanced house sauce is the ideal thing to elevate its deeply charred, tender brisket. While the platters feel generous, the sandwiches are a bit miserly. The skinny smoked sausage, for instance, arranged awkwardly on an onion bun, is no great shakes. But the sides and extras (chili con carne, queso and fresh chips, fried okra, vinegar slaw) make for a jolly experience in a place where families can be at ease. Heaters warm half of the patio, which is almost as big as the entire dining room and bar space, and there are good safety protocols in place. 2337 Main Street, Tucker, 678-691-7075 —CL
Scoville Hot Chicken
This brightly painted spot in a Sandy Springs strip mall does only one thing—fried hot chicken sandwiches with French fries—and does it extremely well. Made with tender, juicy breast meat, the sandwiches come in six spice levels ranging from “Not Spicy” to “Reaper,” which the restaurant claims has a blistering 1 million Scoville heat units—the scale used to rank hot peppers. (For comparison, a jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 10,000 units.) Warning signs posted on the wall and floor caution that the Reaper could cause “stomach pain, sweating, hiccups,” and even “rare instances . . . of ‘thunderclap headaches’ that may require medical attention.” Yikes. But for lovers of spicy food, the “Hot” level is plenty. Don’t skip the coleslaw on top, which helps tame the heat, and consider springing for an extra container of creamy garlic aioli for the seasoned crinkle fries. The restaurant is optimized for takeout, with touchscreens to take your order and lemonade, tea, and a variety of cane sugar–based Stubborn Sodas on tap. (Go for the agave vanilla cream soda.) Word of Scoville Hot Chicken has spread, so if you’re going on a weekend night, think about ordering in advance online. 4959 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs—MW
When the polls closed for the general election on November 3, it took 10 days for Georgia to be called for president-elect Joe Biden. And with that exhausting trudge in our rear-view, returns for the January 5 runoff seemed to come in like a tidal wave once the polls closed at 7 p.m. By 9 p.m., about 40 percent state’s votes had been counted. By midnight, 97 percent of Georgia counties had been tabulated, with Democrat Raphael Warnock firmly ahead of incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue less than 2,000 votes ahead of Democrat Jon Ossoff.
A much shorter ballot and lower overall turnout was partially responsible for the faster count, but unlike in the general election, counties were required this time around begin processing absentee ballots in eight days prior to election day.
This was a relief, of course, for Americans anxiously watching the returns for the pivotal runoff. If either Loeffler or Perdue won, Republicans would keep control of the U.S. Senate. But a victory for both Warnock and Ossoff would lead to a 50-50 split for Senate control. With Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker, the Democrats would gain control of the Senate.
Just before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Loeffler spoke to supporters gathered in Buckhead, telling them, “We have a path to victory, and we are going to stay on it.” But a few minutes later, Warnock delivered a victory speech via YouTube, thanking his supporters, his campaign staff, and his family “from the bottom of my heart.” He vowed to “work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for.”
“We were told that we couldn’t win this election. But tonight we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible,” Warnock said. “May my story be an inspiration to some young person who is trying to grasp and grab hold to the American dream.”
The race was called for Warnock at about 2 a.m. Wednesday and as of noon Thursday, he was ahead by more than 74,000 votes. The senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Warnock is the first Black U.S. Senator from Georgia—or any Southern state—and will be only the 11th Black person to serve in the U.S. Senate.
The race for Perdue’s seat, meanwhile, was much closer. Just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, Perdue team’s released a statement, saying, “We will mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted. We believe in the end, Senator Perdue will be victorious.”
But at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Ossoff, who had been ahead in the votes since the early hours of the morning, delivered his victory speech, thanking voters immediately addressing the Covid-19 pandemic: “Let’s unite now to beat this virus and rush economic relief to the people of our state and to the American people.”
“This campaign has been about health and jobs and justice for the people of this state,” Ossoff said, “and they will be my guiding principle as I serve this state in the U.S. Senate, ensuring that every Georgian has great healthcare, no matter our wealth. Ensuring that we invest in an economic recovery that includes all communities, that rebuilds our state’s infrastructure, that lays the foundations for prosperity in rural Georgia, suburban communities, and urban communities alike. And securing equal justice for all, following in the footsteps of leaders who have departed us in this last year like Congressman John Lewis and C.T. Vivian.”
As ballot counting continued across the state on Wednesday, Ossoff was projected as the winner at about 4 p.m. As of noon Thursday, he is ahead by more than 36,000 votes. At 33 years old, he will be the youngest U.S. Senator elected since Biden was won his seat in 1973 at age 30. He will also be Georgia’s first Jewish U.S. Senator.
And as the race for who will be the District 4 Public Service Commissioner, (yes, there really was more on the ballot than just Senate battle), Republican incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald is the projected winner over Democrat Daniel Blackman, with a nearly 68,000 vote lead.
This story was originally published on January 6 and was updated at 1 p.m. January 7 with news that Ossoff was the projected winner.
The sheer volume of news coverage leading up to Georgia’s January 5 runoff—from general election drama and numerous recounts to President Donald Trump’s pressuring of state officials—has been overwhelming. As Georgia flipped blue on Election Day for the first time since 1992, many across the country suddenly became aware of what those of us living here have known for years—Georgia is changing, and it is absolutely a political battleground.
Now that Georgia has captivated national attention, who better to explain this political phenomenon than the residents and journalists who have been living and working here? That was the primary goal of Gaining Ground: The New Georgia, a five-part podcast hosted by Atlanta natives Rembert Browne and Jewel Wicker. The podcast—which chronicles Georgia’s blue flip in the context of the 2018 gubernatorial election, the 2020 presidential election, and the upcoming senate runoff—is a collaboration between two of the biggest names in podcasting: Tenderfoot TV, the Atlanta-based company behind Up and Vanished and Monster, and Crooked Media, best known for Pod Save America. As such, the podcast has a built-in national audience, giving Browne and Wicker a chance to introduce the country to Georgians on the ground—not just A-list names who are already familiar outside the state.
“We actually covered our bases and didn’t just do the things I think the podcast could have been, which was, Let’s find the biggest names we can find, and the shiniest people we can find, and do a very surface-level vanity project because everyone’s looking at Georgia,” Browne says. “I feel like we actually have been super purposeful in the voices that we’re bringing in and the story we’re weaving.”
Since its release on December 17, the podcast has consistently ranked on Apple Podcasts’ top 20 chart and held the No. 1 spot in its “government” category. We chatted last week with Browne—who has written for publications including Grantland, New York, the New York Times, and the Ringer—and Wicker—who has written for GQ, Billboard, Teen Vogue, and is a frequent contributor to this magazine—about how the podcast began, the importance of looking outside Atlanta, and the challenges of reporting a story without a clear ending. This interview has been edited for space and clarity.
How did this podcast come together? Browne: I got a call from [Pod Save America host] Tommy Vietor, who I’ve known for a while. I thought he was calling to just see what’s up. He mentioned that [Crooked Media was] looking to do a podcast with Tenderfoot. I was interested because [Tenderfoot does] true crime but is based in Georgia. Crooked does politics, but has never really focused on Georgia like this. I was staring down the holidays and actually about to take some time off from work, so I was a little hesitant, but then I remembered I had been wanting to do something that, hopefully, was impactful about keeping the energy up [for the] runoff.
When I talked to Donald [Albright, Tenderfoot’s co-founder], the first thing I said was like, Hey, I would love to do this, but I would love it if we could bring in someone else to help with writing and hosting. Jewel was the first person I thought of. Once Jewel was in and [Tenderfoot and Crooked] seemed to be down to really let us have a real say in the direction of the podcast, I was like, Yeah, let’s do it. I feel like [all of that] happened in like 48 hours. It happened a week before episode one came out.
The first episode of the podcast talks a lot about the 2018 gubernatorial race, and the second episode sets up the political atmosphere in 2020, moving to Election Day in episode three, and then to the runoff. The final episode will air one week after the runoff. What has it been like for you to report this story in real time as a weekly podcast?
Browne: I love projects that have a defined, definite end, [but] it is really interesting to know that we really have no idea what that last episode is going to be like, because it’s really dependent on what happens [on January 5]. I’ve never been a part of a project like that. So it’s madness, but it’s also extremely exhilarating, and I think it’s forcing us to really tap into lots of journalistic tools that we’ve been gathering over the years to try to pull this off.
How did you decide whom to feature on the podcast? Wicker: We only wanted to do this [podcast] if we could make it as local as possible and bring in [as many] Georgia voices as possible. So, let’s not have a [national] pundit when we could have a local reporter who works for the paper, who has been on the ground covering this for years, not just months. And credit to [Albright] and our producers, because they’ve been really great at letting us do that. I think one of the first things we did was make a list of voices that we thought were really important, from reporters to organizers to everyday people. And for the most part, the voices we said were important have been included. I think that’s what has made [the podcast] interesting for people who don’t live in Georgia, but still feel local enough for people who live [here] to feel attached to it.
Browne: We didn’t want it to be, Look at us, look at us. We wanted it to be, Look at everything else. It’s very clear that we want this to be about the people who didn’t just wake up a couple of weeks ago and be like, Oh, we care about Georgia. Our focus has been [on those who have been] really thinking about this and busting their ass for years to get us to a point where we can have a podcast like this.
I think it’s telling, too, that the podcast doesn’t just focus on what is happening in Atlanta, but features interviews with leaders in Savannah and Albany, and reminds folks that the cities and towns outside Atlanta are no less important.
Wicker: I think that was something that was a number one priority for me. A few weeks before I signed on to do this project, I had done another article about Black organizers [in Georgia]. I talked to a young woman who had been organizing in Albany, who talked about organizing for not only the senate runoff, but also for the public service commissioner runoff. She said something that really stood out to me, like, I can’t organize here by saying we want to get the film and TV makers who are big business and all those things. That’s not going to bring people to the polls, because that’s not what people in Albany care about. I have to tailor my message to them. If we were going to talk about Georgia, we couldn’t just make it seem like Atlanta was the only place in Georgia that mattered, or the only place that has Black people, or the only place where these organizers are focusing, because that’s not true. Organizing is very, very different if you’re in a community where there’s low broadband [access]. You have to do things differently. Stacey Abrams had to go on the gospel radio stations to meet fans. I just didn’t think we would be telling the story right if we weren’t encompassing all of that.
Browne: For me, it’s part of an ongoing process of confronting some of my past ignorance and biases. I have, for most of my life, treated Atlanta like the center of the universe, and everything outside of it was like, whatever. It came from a place of pride, but it also can also bleed into ignorance. So much of making this podcast was not falling into very easy traps. And I think [with] the election, there’s this narrative of, Atlanta did it. Atlanta played a huge part in Georgia going blue, but Atlanta didn’t do it on its own. It is possible to still think Atlanta is the greatest place, but also put it on this false pedestal where nothing else outside of Atlanta is important and influential. So, I’m [rethinking] some of the ways I’ve thought in the past and trying to make sure those familiar trappings don’t happen.
Wicker: It’s the same way we in Atlanta don’t like to feel like we’re being “othered,” so why would we do that to communities here in Georgia? I think Rembert is right; sometimes, us Atlantans have to check that tendency to do that and be better about it, and I think this podcast has been a really great opportunity to do that.
What has been the most difficult part of making this podcast so far? What’s been biggest challenge you guys have run into?
Browne: One is, even before an episode goes up, we’re already thinking about the next one. But it’s also really difficult to do [a podcast] like this in Covid. It’s hard to do everything in Covid. There’s lots of situations where it’d be super easy to just roll up on someone and be like, Hey, let’s knock this [interview] out right now. But we might have to do it on Zoom. There are just more things to consider, even down to just getting equipment to [record] the podcast. A lot of things that I wouldn’t have expected are these little hurdles that make things not impossible, but a little harder.
Wicker: Doing a podcast that spans a little over a month would be difficult regardless, but we’re doing this over a holiday break. We’re not even getting true full weeks between episodes because you have to account for Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve. We’ve been able to navigate around it and get the interviews we need, but it certainly has added a bit of a challenge.
What have been your favorite or most impactful interviews?
Browne: Some of the interviews have been really fun for me because I’ve chatted with folks I’ve known for decades. I’ve known [the New Yorker journalist] Charles Bethea since I was a kid. It’s been great to watch him become a trusted national reporter who actually is local. He didn’t show up in Georgia six months ago and start writing about Georgia. He grew up here, he lives here. It’s very cool for me to do interviews that feel more like conversations.
Wicker: For me, it was the interview I did [in episode two] with [photojournalist] Alyssa Pointer from the AJC. We never worked together [when I was on staff at the AJC], but we had mutual friends. When I saw the news that she had been detained [by police while covering a protest for the AJC this past summer], it really impacted me. I had a hard time with it. I remember being really upset because I knew [Pointer] was the type of person that would brush it off and go right back to work. And I was really worried, not just about her, but the trauma that all of these reporters [in similar encounters nationwide] were dealing with—Black reporters who were going back to work and not having the time to really sit with what had occurred. I was so grateful [to do the interview with Pointer]. It was just such a touching moment. It’s a testament to the character [of these reporters that] they brush it off and go back to work, but it’s kind of sad they feel that they work [in an environment] where they have to be like, Oh well, go back to work, and not really take a second for themselves. That really sucks.
What do you want listeners to take away from this podcast?
Browne: I want this podcast to serve as almost like a time capsule that you can pick up and listen to at any point to find out about the heart and soul of the moment—the nuts and bolts of what happened, but also how it felt and how this moment impacted people. But the thing that also moves me the most is when I think that the voices we’re highlighting in this podcast include a series of people who made very purposeful decisions in their lives—whether it was five years ago, two years ago, whatever—to look at Georgia and want to change it. We started the podcast with [Nse Ufot, the executive director of the New Georgia Project,] telling that story about how she drove from Canada back home to Atlanta because she believed in something. That’s a purposeful position that someone made that literally has impacted an entire state and nation. Yes, there’s Stacey Abrams. [There are] people like Nse. But in order to get here, there were thousands and thousands of people that made little or massive decisions and changes in their lives to push Georgia a little bit.
Where we are now is the sum of a lot of really purposeful, powerful decisions. It’s really beautiful to see [how] a lot of people can come together in a state that [many] don’t really understand, and can really, collectively change the place they live. I just feel honored to be able to give these people some shine.
Wicker: When I think about my role as a reporter, it’s to document these moments and create that time capsule so we can have an accurate depiction of what this [election] looked like and what it means for years to come. That’s why I love that we’re doing this documentary style, because for me, it’s mainly just telling the story of, How did we get here? What happened and what’s become of it? We still don’t know. But being able to tell that story and provide that context is the most important thing for me.
The 2020 election is over . . . not. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that Georgia is going to be the center of the political universe for the next two months while incumbent Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock duke it out for the state’s two U.S. Senate seats. And while there will be plenty of analysis, attack ads, debates, and tweets, what you need to know the most right now is how to vote. Below, a handy quick-start guide:
Can I register to vote in the January 5 runoff even if I wasn’t registered for the general?
Yes! The voter registration deadline for the January 5 runoff is December 7. You can register online here through the Secretary of State’s office. To register online, you must have a valid Georgia driver’s license or ID card issued by Georgia DDS. If you don’t have either of these things, you can apply using this mail-in form, which will ask for the last 4 digits of your social security number in lieu of a driver’s license or Georgia ID number. Print and complete the form and mail it; the postage is prepaid. If you don’t own a printer, you can get one of these forms at the county board of registrars’ office, or an election office, libraries, schools, recruitment offices, or if you’re a college student, from your school’s registrar office.
To be eligible to vote in Georgia, you must be a U.S. citizen, a legal resident of whichever county you live in, and at least 18 years old on Election Day (you can register once you hit 17 and a half years old). You also cannot be serving a sentence “for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude,” and you cannot have been found “mentally incompetent” by a judge.
What if I was 17 on Election Day but I’ll be 18 by the January 5 runoff? Yup, you can vote as as long as you will be 18 on or before January 5 and register to vote by December 7.
Can I request an absentee ballot for the January runoff?
Sure can. Complete an application online (you’ll need your county, state ID number, birth date, and legal name). Alternatively, you can fill out this PDF and return to your county board of registrars via mail, fax, or email. You’ll need to sign the PDF application, so make sure it matches the signature the state has on file on your ID. Just as in the general election, absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, January 5. Request and send your ballot sooner rather than later; while state law says that absentee ballots can be requested through the Friday before the election, for the January 5 runoff, that Friday happens to be New Year’s Day, so you’ll want to have thought ahead. Also be mindful of postal delays due to the holidays. Remember that you can also drop off your ballot at an official county drop box up until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Check your county’s election website for details and drop box locations: Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton.
Will there be early voting for the runoff?
Yes, indeed—early voting for the January runoff starts on December 14. Check your county’s elections website for polling place locations and hours.
Wait, aren’t there two elections coming up? One in December and one in January?
Yes, and it can be confusing. The election on January 5 will be runoffs for federal offices, most notably, the elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats. This is the one that is attracting national attention.
However, there is another election on December 1 for local and state runoffs. Ironically, here in Atlanta, the most high-profile runoff on that ballot is, in fact, a federal one: the runoff between Kwanza Hall and Robert Franklin to determine who will hold 5th District Congressional District seat for the rest of the current term, which is just a few weeks. Nikema Williams, who won the November 3 general election, will hold the seat for the next full term and will be sworn in on January 3, 2021.
For those living in State Senate District 39, there is also the Special Democratic Primary on December 1 to determine who will fill Nikema Williams’s vacated state Senate seat. Sonya Halpern and Linda Prichett are the candidates. An important thing to know about this one: it is on its own separate ballot. This means that if you already voted early for the 5th Congressional District runoff (early voting began on November 9 and runs through the 25th), you have not yet voted in the state Senate runoff and will still need to do so. Early voting for this state Senate runoff will be held on November 23-25. Furthermore, Fulton County elections chief Richard Barron also told the AJC that voters who arrive to vote in-person on December 1 will have to check-in twice to vote in both the 5th Congressional District and State Senate District 39 runoffs and that there will be separate voter check-in lines for the congressional runoff and the state Senate runoff. So, just know that if you live in both of these districts, you are eligible to vote in both runoffs, and be sure to ask poll workers on-site for help if you are confused. (You likely won’t be the only one.)
It has been 10 long days since the polls closed in Georgia at 7 p.m. on November 3. While President Donald Trump held on to an early lead in the state through most of Tuesday night and on into Wednesday morning, as more and more ballots were counted in largely blue metro Atlanta and Savannah, that lead was slowly chipped away. Once Wisconsin and Michigan were called for former Vice President Joe Biden, even more heads spun to look at the razor-thin margin in Georgia—as well as the close margins in Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
Since 1972—nearly 50 years ago—Georgia has only gone blue three times: In 1976 and 1980, the state voted for our own Jimmy Carter, and in 1992, Georgia picked Bill Clinton for the presidency. Otherwise, it has been a steady red vote. The thought of both presidential candidates campaigning in person in Georgia just days before the election, as both Biden and Trump did, would have been preposterous even a few years ago, much less the thought that the fate of an entire presidential election would rest so heavily on Georgia. Suddenly, the rest of the country began to feel how Fulton County residents feel every single election, restless and waiting. Then, in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, November 6, absentee ballots counted in Clayton County—the bluest in the state and part of John Lewis’s 5th District that Trump famously criticized a few years ago—officially turned the tide. Since then, as provisional, oversees, and military ballots were counted, Biden’s lead has jumped up to more than 14,000 votes. Biden clinched the presidency when Pennsylvania was called on Saturday, and today, ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS, and other news outlets projected Biden as the winner in Georgia.
To give you an idea of how long it’s been since Georgia was a blue state, on November 3, 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidential election, rapper 21 Savage was a week and half old. (Cardi B was only two and a half weeks old.) Cartoon Network had just celebrated its one-month anniversary. The Georgia Dome had been open for two months. TLC’s “What About Your Friends” was sitting at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the same fall the Braves lost the World Series. Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard was released just a few weeks after the election.
Since the first polls closed on the East Coast yesterday, all eyes—and we mean all eyes—have been on President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s race to 270 electoral votes. And here in Georgia, that’s where most eyes still are, as the state works to count absentee ballots in Fulton and DeKalb that could be the key to whether or not the state turns blue for the first time since 1992.
But what happened to everyone else who was on the ballot? Here’s a (very) brief look at some of the other notable races you may have missed. This story was last updated on 11/5/20 at 3:19 p.m.
The “jungle primary” for the U.S. Senate Incumbent Republican senator Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock will face each other in a January 5 runoff. While votes are still being counted, Loeffler and Warnock have remained neck-and-neck in the 20-person race, and just after 10:30 p.m. last night, Republican Doug Collins, who has the third-most votes, appeared to concede, tweeting, “I just called [Loeffler] and congratulated her on making the runoff. She has my support and endorsement.”
David Perdue’s Senate seat
The race between incumbent Republican David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff is extremely close and has not yet been called. Perdue is currently leading with 50 percent of the vote, but if he drops below 50 percent, he and Ossoff will face each other again in the January 5 runoff.
U.S. House Races Nikema Williams will succeed the late John Lewis in representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, easily winning over Republican challenger Angela Stanton-King with 85 percent of the vote.
In the 6th District, which includes parts of Cobb, Fulton, and DeKalb, Democrat incumbent Lucy McBath defeated Republican challenger Karen Handel for the second election in a row, winning with 54 percent of the vote.
In the 7th District, which includes Gwinnett and south Forsyth County, Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeauxdeclared victory this morning over Republican challenger Rich McCormick, but the race is still too close to call. Only about 8,300 votes separate the two candidates.
Rounding out the last of metro Atlanta, Democrat David Scott won in the 13th District (includes parts of Fulton, Clayton, and Cobb Counties and all of Douglas County); Democrat Hank Johnson won in the 4th District (includes parts of DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties and all of Rockdale county); and Republican Barry Loudermilk won in the 11th District (includes parts of Cobb and Fulton Counties and all of Cherokee and Bartow Counties).
A major state house flip
Incumbent Democrat Bob Trammell, the Georgia House minority leader, lost his seat of six years in Georgia’s 132nd District to Republican David Jenkins by just 675 votes. The race was the most expensive state house race this year.
New county commissioners While the races have not yet been called, three Black women are projected to flip county commission seats in three counties: In Cobb, Lisa Cupid is ahead of incumbent Republican Mike Boyce with 53 percent of the vote. In Gwinnett, Democrat Nicole Love Hendrickson leads incumbent Republican David Post with 58 percent of the vote. And in Henry County, Democrat Carlotta Harrell leads incumbent Republican June Barnes Wood with 59 percent of the vote.
Blue wins in Gwinnett County
Democrats had a strong showing in Gwinnett and are projected to win most of the partisan races on the ballot, including flipping the school board. In the District Attorney’s race, Democrat Patsy Austin-Gatson appears to have beaten incumbent Republican Danny Porter with 56 percent of the vote. Porter has held the seat for nearly 30 years. Austin-Gatson will be the county’s first Black DA. (By the way, the Gwinnett transit referendum is effectively tied.)
New sheriffs in town Gwinnett will likely have its first Black sheriff in Democrat Keybo Taylor, who leads Republican Luis Solis Jr. with 57 percent of the vote. This could mean the end of Gwinnett’s participation in the 287(g) program. “Under the program,” the Gwinnett Daily Post says, “the sheriff’s office places immigration holds on undocumented residents who are arrested for crimes and booked into the county jail. Those inmates are then turned over to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, through a partnership between ICE and the sheriff’s office.” Opponents have said the program unfairly targets Latinos and leads people to under-report crimes due to fear of deportation. Taylor has said he would not participate in the program.
Cobb will also likely have its first Black sheriff in Democrat Craig Owens, who has 55 percent of the vote ahead of incumbent Republican Neil Warren. Owens too says he will pull Cobb from the 287(g) program. Warren, who had held the position since 2003, faced several controversies that likely hurt his re-election, including several inmate deaths at the county jail and a recent $10,000 campaign finance violation.
Henry County, too, will likely see its first Black sheriff in Democrat Reginald Scandrett, who leads Republican Jack Redlinger with 60 percent of the vote.
What about the ballot questions? All three ballot questions—the two state constitutional amendments and the referendum—passed. Constitutional amendment 1 says that money generated for special purposes—like the fees you pay when you buy a new tire and which are supposed to clean up tire dumps—must be used for those purposes. (Previously, that money just went into a general fund the General Assembly would pull from.) Constitutional amendment 2 essentially does away with sovereign immunity, making it easier for people to sue the government. The third measure exempts property taxes on property owned by 501(c)(3) nonprofits as long as the property is for building or repairing single-family homes and the nonprofit sells it with a no-interest loan. (Think of nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity.)
The City of Atlanta homestead exemption—which would make affordable housing known as community land trusts even more affordable for the people calling it home—also passed overwhelmingly.
A stone’s throw (dough throw?) from the BeltLine in Old Fourth Ward, you’ll find a takeout window wedged between Lingering Shade Social Club and Irwin Street Market in a tin-sided, charmingly ramshackle building. The diminutive nature of this operation, Glide Pizza, belies the outsize pies and slices available here. The shop is easy to miss, but the line snaking into the parking lot is not.
Atlanta is experiencing something of a pizza explosion, mostly dominated by Neapolitan pies. In less than two years, the robust crop of new pizzerias includes Junior’s in Summerhill, Gio’s Sicilian in Home Park, MTH Pizza in Smyrna, Forno Vero in Marietta, Grana in Piedmont Heights, Ammazza in Decatur, Slim & Husky’s in Adair Park, Firewall in Westview, and, of course, the inimitable Nina & Rafi, a literal 30-second glide down the BeltLine from Glide.
What sets this little takeout window apart? It’s the most New York–influenced of the lot, more Brooklyn than Neapolitan. I dig the texture of the crust—far sturdier than the intentionally soggy-in-the-middle Neapolitan and yet a little airier/flakier than that of a more quintessentially Brooklyn pie. The flavor profile is also more delicate than that of its New York brethren (tempting me to dust it with a little salt and oregano). But it is a very fine pie, especially when graced with the house-pickled jalapenos that come on the side. Call me a purist, but I’m less a fan of the housemade ranch for dipping. Though tasty enough, it feels decidedly anti-Brooklyn; a good crust needs no embellishment. 660 Irwin Street, Old Fourth Ward, no phone —Mara Shalhoup
It can be tricky to find this Buckhead restaurant, which is tucked away behind a tattoo parlor and a yoga studio on Peachtree Road. But once you descend the long concrete ramp and climb a flight of stairs, you’ll discover an impeccably designed restaurant that exudes cool. Vinyl records, found on shelves throughout the dining room, come from the personal collection of owner Sim Walker (of Ms. Icey’s Kitchen and Bar), a more than 10,000-album treasure trove that boasts everything from Wu-Tang Clan to the Mary Poppins soundtrack. A DJ booth is set up near the bar, where patrons can order elegant cocktails and several types of rum.
Haitian-born chef Dayana Joseph serves up a Caribbean menu featuring Jamaican ackee fruit and Scotch bonnet peppers, oxtail, and plantains. Appetizers include duck wings a l’orange or lightly fried cracked conch, which comes with a sweet and spicy scotch bonnet pepper and citrus dipping sauce reminiscent of flavor-boosted honey mustard. Skip the decadent, fatty tamarind-glazed short rib for the fried whole red snapper, topped with vividly pink pickled vegetables, and don’t miss the boozy plantain cake with cashew crumble for dessert. The restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday for dine-in by reservation; call ahead for takeout or place your order at the bar. 2293 Peachtree Street, Buckhead, 404-709-2906 —Myrydd Wells
Situated right across from Kimball House, behind a few picnic tables in the takeout-only space formerly occupied by Doggy Dog hot dog shop, this no-frills barbecue spot offers a simple menu: four sides, three meats (two more on the weekend), two desserts, and a single sauce. Of course, simplicity reigns at the moment, as does relatively affordable, family-ready comfort food, which makes BBQ Cafe a solid option for carnivorous Decaturites. (No real vegetarian meal options here.)
The $15 barbecue plate gets you one meat, two sides, a drink, and a dessert, and between the pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, those ribs are the clear winner—generously meaty and adequately smoky with a well-seasoned, salty-spicy bark. The “loaded” potato salad is richly creamy and flecked with herbs and slivers of pork (and even better the next day), a fine companion to the ribs. Lightly dressed, peppery slaw rounds out my ideal plate.
Both the meats and sides (which also include straightforward baked beans and strikingly simple corn salad) are available by the pound or half-pound. Don’t hold back on a pound of that potato salad for $7.50. 310 East Howard Avenue, Decatur, 678-235-3476 —M.S.
You already know that 2020 is a huge election year—President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are going head-to-head for the presidency and here in Georgia, we have not one but two U.S. Senate seats up for the vote, one of which is a jungle primary. Not to mention the laundry list of state elections and proposed amendments.
And if you live in Georgia and are not yet registered to vote, you are quickly running out of time. The deadline to register to vote in Georgia for the November 3 General Election is Monday, October 5 (a.k.a. in less than a week). But don’t panic. Here’s what you need to do:
How do you register to vote in Georgia? It’s fairly simple. You can register online here through the Secretary of State’s office. To register online, you must have a valid Georgia driver’s license or ID card issued by Georgia DDS. If you don’t have either of these things, you can apply using this mail-in form, which will ask for the last 4 digits of your social security number in lieu of a driver’s license or Georgia ID number. Print and complete the form and mail it; the postage is prepaid. If you don’t own a printer, you can get one of these forms at the county board of registrars’ office, or an election office, libraries, schools, recruitment offices, or if you’re a college student, from your school’s registrar office.
To be eligible to vote in Georgia, you must be a U.S. citizen, a legal resident of whichever county you live in, and at least 18 years old on Election Day (you can register once you hit 17 and a half years old). You also cannot be serving a sentence “for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude,” and you cannot have been found “mentally incompetent” by a judge.
Also, since voting is processed at the county level, if you’ve moved across county lines more than 30 days before the election, you must register to vote in your new county. (The city does not matter; if you still live in Atlanta but crossed the Fulton/DeKalb line, you have to register in your new county.) If you don’t, you won’t be able to vote on November 3. If you moved across county lines within 30 days of the election, you are safe to vote in your previous polling place. If you moved within the same county, you should still be registered, but your precinct might have changed. You may be able to vote in your previous polling location if you haven’t notified the registrar of a change of address at least 30 days prior to November 6, but you should let them know you moved. You can either write the county board of registrars’ office or submit a new voter registration application.
Once you’re registered, the Georgia My Voter Page has a lot of information you’ll need for election day, including sample ballots and information about your polling place.
In early June, we paused our daily coronavirus updates. However, we will continue to provide updates weekly. Here’s what you need to know right now.
• As of publication time, a total of 267,758 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 5,576 people have died. 2.3 million viral tests have been conducted, and 10.6 percent of those have been positive. 2,081 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. [GA Dept. of Public Health/GEMA]
• Georgia has plenty of COVID-19 tests, but according to the office of Governor Brian Kemp, Georgians aren’t going to get tested. While cases have been on a downward trend statewide for the past few weeks (although Georgia still has some of the highest case numbers in the country), the AJC cites public health experts who say that mixed messaging around who is supposed to be tested—Only symptomatic patients? Everyone? Only the vulnerable?—could be contributing to the low amount of Georgians seeking tests. And according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, there is still not enough testing being conducted in order to contain the virus, especially outside of metro Atlanta. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, symptomatic or not, you can be tested in Georgia. [AJC]
• Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has renewed some executive orders to help residents during the pandemic, including extending instructions not to shut off water for those who have not paid bills and a 60-day moratorium on evictions for subsidized housing provided through several city organizations. [11 Alive]
• A one-year-old boy in Cobb County is now the state’s youngest COVID-19 victim. [AJC]
• Some students in Gwinnett County are returning to the classroom, which will be phasing in students for in-person learning through September 9. Families also had the option to continue virtual learning for the rest of the semester. [AJC]
• In just a week, the amount of COVID-19 cases among Georgia Tech students has more than doubled, with 641 total cases confirmed on Saturday. Classes started on August 17. Many cases during the first week were tied to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house but have now spread to students living on and off campus, inside and outside the Greek life community. [WSB-TV]
• Meanwhile in Milledgeville, students at Georgia College staged a die-in protest, demanding that the college allow students and faculty to take and host online classes (currently, faculty must get supervisor approval) and improve contact tracing and testing. The school has among one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the county among colleges and universities. [AJC]
• The Georgia Department of Driver Services has again changed the way driving tests will be conducted. The department made headlines early in the pandemic for allowing new drivers to waive the road test, however, a few weeks later, Governor Kemp announced that those who waived the test would have to take it before September 30. Now, those applying for a license will take a driving test on a closed course, with the instructor watching from outside the vehicle. [AJC]
• While many parents, students, and school leaders applaud it, thousands of Georgia teachers are fretting the prospects—or realities—of face-to-face learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in a right-to-work state, do Georgia teachers worried about in-person learning during a pandemic have any recourse? Read our story here.
Since 1961, Atlanta magazine, the city’s premier general interest publication, has served as the authority on Atlanta, providing its readers with a mix of long-form nonfiction, lively lifestyle coverage, in-depth service journalism, and literary essays, columns, and profiles.