Tuesday's primary contests to replace Reps. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Paul Broun (R-Ga.) will all likely result in new Republicans joining Congress next year from the heavily conservative districts.
Here’s how the three races shape up:
GA-11 (GINGREY): Barr vs. Loudermilk
More than a decade after losing his seat in Congress, for Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) is looking to return, but he faces a tough challenge from Tea Party-backed state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R).
Barr lost a primary election for his seat in 2002 and later ran as the Libertarian Party’s 2008 presidential nominee before rejoining the GOP. He finished in second place to Loudermilk in the first round of voting, and many Georgia GOP strategists view him as the underdog.
Loudermilk has benefited from the endorsements of several national conservative groups, including The Club for Growth and The Madison Project, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).
But while Loudermilk has some big-name endorsements, neither candidate has had much outside support financially. No groups have been on the air, leaving the candidates to duke it out in the expensive district in the Atlanta media market through a campaign driven by direct-mail advertisements.
The race has flown under the radar, but that hasn’t stopped things from getting edgy. Loudermilk has attacked Barr for a letter he wrote supporting Eric Holder for attorney general, an attack Barr says is unfair because he later called for Holder's resignation.
Loudermilk has faced heat about claims that he embellished his military service record and a leaked letter that shows he was named in a racism complaint filed by his former secretary.
GA-10 (BROUN): Hice vs. Collins
The race to replace controversial Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) has at least one candidate cast in his mold. Baptist pastor and former conservative radio host Jody Hice (R) has already developed a reputation for the type of bomb-throwing Broun is well known for, and he has Broun’s backing in the primary runoff.
Hice has drawn national attention for writing that Islam “does not deserve First Amendment protection” and saying a decade ago that women should only run for office after first receiving their husbands’ blessing. He also routinely calls President Obama a socialist, much like Broun, and believes he should be impeached. If Hice wins, he’d likely be a thorn in the side of House leadership.
“Jody Hice is Paul Broun version 2.0, and Mike Collins is running as more of the mainstream businessman candidate,” Georgia GOP strategist Joel McElhannon said.
Collins, a trucking company executive and the son of former Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.), is hoping he can rally enough establishment conservatives to pull off a win in what’s expected to be a low-turnout election. He has the backing of some big-name conservatives including former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
Hice has attacked Collins for suggesting he would be willing to raise the debt ceiling without preconditions, while Collins has sought to paint Hice as outside of the mainstream in the rural, conservative district. Insiders say Hice, who finished a few hundred votes ahead of Collins in the first round, likely has the edge in the runoff.
GA-1 (KINGSTON): Johnson vs. Carter
The battle to replace Kingston, who’s running for the Senate, has turned into a classic struggle between establishment Republicans and the Tea Party.
Georgia state Sen. Buddy Carter (R), a pharmacist and longtime state legislator, has the backing of the Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association and a number of local legislators. Bob Johnson, a surgeon and Army veteran, has the Club for Growth in his corner, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).
The race has been well-funded and heated. Both candidates raised large sums and have used that money to beat each other up on the airwaves in the inexpensive Savannah-based district, accusing each other of being weak-willed conservatives who won’t fight ObamaCare.
Carter has also hit Johnson for saying he’d “rather see another terrorist attack ... than to give up my liberty as an American citizen” while talking about airport security screenings.
“They've been pounding the tar out of each other,” one Georgia GOP strategist said.
The Club for Growth has spent more than $400,00 on Johnson’s behalf, painting Carter as a career politician. While the Chamber of Commerce hasn’t spent on the race, Carter has had support from a super-PAC backed by pharmacists and business interests. Carter led Johnson by 36 to 23 percent in the first round of voting, but strategists predict a close contest.