United States – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says he will use more than $500,000 from his political committee to help a state Supreme Court justice he appointed to win the election.

Political Landscape and Election Dynamics

The Republican Kemp is not the only conservative who is supporting Justice Andrew Pinson in his May 21 nonpartisan election against John Barrow, a former Democratic congressman who has built his campaign around abortion rights, as reported by Associated Press.

It is a significant move as Barrow attempts to defeat an incumbent justice, something that almost never happens in Georgia. The contest is not as intense as the ones in other states like Wisconsin, but the attention and spending are higher than in the state’s historically sleepy judicial campaigns. Three other justices are running uncontested for new six-year terms, even though Georgia is a battleground state in the partisan elections.

At least two religiously conservative groups are also spending to support Pinson, while some backers of abortion rights are trying to mobilize votes for Barrow.

Kemp unveiled a television ad on Tuesday praising Pinson, a campaign strategist Cody Hall said is being aired on the Atlanta-area stations.

“We need judges who follow the law and uphold the Constitution, not more partisan politicians in the courtroom,” Kemp said in the ad, describing Pinson as “a conservative voice we can trust.”

Campaign Strategies and Voter Mobilization

Hall said that Kemp’s Georgians First Leadership Committee is also using digital media, radio, and texting voters. The Kemp campaign started the battle just a week before election day, and as of Monday, more than 314,000 Georgians had already voted early.

Barrow pointed out that Kemp’s intervention is proof that Pinson cannot be trusted to be the one who will protect the abortion rights. Barrow contends that the state constitution secures the abortion rights in the same way Roe v. Wade did before the U. S. Supreme Court annulled that decision. A case making that argument is being heard by a lower court in Georgia and is supposed to be eventually passed to the state Supreme Court.

“It confirms what I’ve been saying about his record,” Barrow said. “It shows that he cannot be counted on to rule that women have the rights under the Georgia Constitution that they used to under Roe. vs. Wade or these folks wouldn’t be backing him.”

Kemp gave the name Pinson, 37, to the high court in 2022. Numerous lawyers, including some Democrats, have given him their endorsement. Pinson has not given any explanation of his opinion on Georgia’s abortion law in interviews; he has said it is impossible for a judge to discuss an issue that he might later rule on. He cautions not to politicize the courts.

Barrow’s Response and Allegations

Barrow claims that Pinson, who was the state’s solicitor general then, was the lawyer who was the most responsible for Georgia supporting the Mississippi case that resulted in the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe in 2022. That decision was the turning point for the 2019 Georgia law, which bans most abortions after the fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at the sixth week, which is before the majority of women know they are pregnant.

Stakeholder Engagement and Endorsements

Cole Muzio, the president of Frontline Policy, a Christian conservative group affiliated with Kemp, asked his supporters to vote for Pinson in an email he sent on Monday.

“Your vote for Andrew Pinson in this race is a moral imperative,” Muzio wrote. “The winner of this race will have a vote on Georgia’s Heartbeat Law.”

Muzio told that he didn’t know yet how much his group would spend.

Barrow, 69, was the only white Democratic representative from the Deep South and served five terms in Congress. If he wins the election, it wouldn’t change the conservative tilt of the court, where eight out of nine justices were appointed by Republican governors, as reported by Associated Press.

The endorsements for Barrow are from Fair Fight Action, the political group that was established by Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, which sent a joint fundraising email with Barrow; Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates and Reproductive Freedom for All, which used to be NARAL Pro-Choice America; and Reproductive Freedom for All, which is mobilizing members and volunteers.