Congressman fighting for job in primary race

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A metro Atlanta congressman faces a one-on-one battle for re-election against a former sheriff who’s a fellow Democrat, while primary races to fill three open U.S. House seats in Georgia have turned into sprawling contests between 19 total Republicans.

As voters elect party nominees in Georgia’s 14 congressional districts Tuesday, there are several standout races to watch. In eastern Georgia, five Republicans are fighting to be the GOP’s chosen candidate to challenge the last white Democratic congressman in the Deep South - a race the national Republican Party badly wants to win in November. Of course, any of the crowded primary races on the ballot could require a runoff July 22.

Here’s a look at Georgia’s key primary races for Congress.

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4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia will lose his job Tuesday unless he can overcome a challenge by one of his district’s veteran lawmen. After 13 years as DeKalb County sheriff, Tom Brown turned in his badge in February and signed up to oppose Johnson.

Brown said Johnson doesn’t deserve a fifth term because he’s failed to attract enough federal spending to the 4th District to help it weather a turbulent economy.

“You should always bring some type of bacon home,” Brown said. “Everyone thinks he’s a nice guy. But it appears he’s not engaged.”

Johnson insists his constituents have benefited from $250 million in federal aid since he took office in 2007. He said he faced a much tougher Democratic primary fight in 2010, when he was challenged by two senior DeKalb County officials. Johnson trounced them both by winning 55 percent of the vote.

“I believe my opponent is suffering from a misplaced sense of vanity,” Johnson said.

No Republicans are running in the heavily Democratic district anchored in DeKalb County, meaning the winner of Johnson and Brown’s primary will go to Washington.

Brown raised $277,912 compared with the congressman’s $414,999. As of April 30, Brown had more money in the bank - $89,849 to Johnson’s $53,345 - to spend on the campaign’s final weeks.

President Barack Obama has endorsed Johnson. Brown said that as a sheriff seeking re-election in 2008 and 2012, “I got more votes in DeKalb County than Barack Obama did.” Brown ran unopposed both times.

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12TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

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