U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and the Republican frontrunner challenging the incumbent Democrat were among the first candidates Monday to qualify officially for this year’s elections, as the weeklong qualifying period began.

Warnock is not expected the face opposition in the May 24 Democratic primary. On the Republican side, both University of Georgia football icon Herschel Walker and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black signed qualifying papers on Monday.

Walker vowed to tie Warnock to what the GOP frontrunner called the “disastrous agenda” of President Joe Biden.

“Washington Democrats plan to spend millions of dollars to protect Senator Warnock and his 95% Biden voting record,” Walker said. “We will spend every day between now and November reminding Georgians that soaring gas prices, skyrocketing inflation and record levels of crime fall squarely on the shoulders of Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock.”

Other federal candidates to qualify on Monday included U.S. Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Lawrenceville, and Lucy McBath, D-Marietta in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District.

McBath currently represents the 6th District but decided to run in the 7th after Republicans in the General Assembly redrew the 6th to lean heavily toward the GOP.

“At this critical moment in our nation’s history, when voting rights, women’s health care, and our democracy are under attack, it’s more important than ever to have leaders who are focused on defeating the extremist Republicans in Congress, not fellow Democrats,” Bourdeaux said Monday in a message to constituents.

“I have taken them on over and over again and I’ll continue fighting for common sense, Georgia values as long as I am your representative in Congress.”

Republican Rich McCormick, who lost to Bourdeaux in 2020, signed up Monday to seek the Republican nomination in the 6th District.

“In Washington, I’ll be a bold and unapologetic advocate for the completion of President Trump’s wall, policies that lock down the border, and aggressive interior enforcement to keep cartels and traffickers out of our country,” McCormick said.

Candidates for the top state offices stayed on the sidelines Monday.

However, a couple of candidates signed up for the lieutenant governor’s race. Savannah activist Jeanne Seaver vowed to push to eliminate the state income tax, while former Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination and signed qualifying papers on the same day.

Another newly emerged candidate, former Georgia Rep. Mike Coan, announced he will run for Georgia commissioner of labor. Incumbent Republican Mark Butler announced last week he would not seek a fourth term as labor commissioner.  

Coan, who currently serves as the agency’s deputy commissioner, will take on state Sen. Bruce Thompson in the GOP primary.

“At this critical time in our history, we need an experienced conservative leader who understands how to run one of Georgia’s biggest agencies,” Coan said.

Meanwhile, a veteran of the state Senate announced Monday he will not seek reelection this year. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, will be leaving the General Assembly after serving for 22 years.

“I will be spending more time with family and friends and looking for ways to serve my community in other capacities,” Mullis wrote in a prepared statement.

Qualifying week will continue until noon Friday.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams | Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is the Bureau Chief of Capitol Beat News Service.