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Fani Willis and the judge presiding over Ga. Trump election case defeat challengers

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The prosecutor and judge overseeing the Georgia criminal case against former President Donald Trump have both easily defeated challengers in local elections. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis won the Democratic primary yesterday, and Judge Scott McAfee won a full term on the bench. WABE's Sam Gringlas reports from Atlanta.

SAM GRINGLAS, BYLINE: Trump is facing criminal charges in multiple jurisdictions, but in the Georgia case, other key players are also facing voters this year.

GRINGLAS: At Mutation Brewing, McAfee supporters mingled around a bar decorated with stars and stripes, sipping brews with names like the Teddy Brewsevelt as returns trickled in. McAfee was 33 when he was appointed to a vacancy on the Fulton Superior Court. A few months later, the court randomly assigned McAfee the Trump case. Now that the judge has won his first campaign, he says he's ready to get back to his docket.

SCOTT MCAFEE: The message here that I'm getting is that I need to get back to work, to get back in the courtroom and to keep doing what we've been doing, which is to give both sides their fair day in court, to be treated with respect and to get the job done.

GRINGLAS: Despite pushback from their election opponents over the Trump case, McAfee and Willis were buoyed by their prominent roles in those proceedings. Willis is the county's first Black woman DA and has become a household name for prosecuting Trump. The path has not always been easy. McAfee allowed Willis to stay on Trump's case if a prosecutor she'd had a relationship with resigned. This month, an appeals court agreed to review that decision, further dimming chances of a trial this year. At a historic mansion, Willis celebrated her win with a live band and flowing drinks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FANI WILLIS: Every now and then, you get to stop and smell the roses, and tonight, we're going to stop and smell these roses. The DA drinking Grey Goose, in case anybody wondering.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GRINGLAS: While McAfee has secured his seat by winning his nonpartisan election, Willis still faces a Republican challenger this fall. That GOP opponent served on Trump's Georgia legal team after the 2020 election. In her victory speech, Willis stressed her commitment to equal justice, despite her critics.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIS: There is no one above the law in this country, nor is there anyone beneath it.

GRINGLAS: With Tuesday's campaign wrapped up, the Trump case chugs on. Pretrial hearings continue next week.

For NPR News, I'm Sam Gringlas in Atlanta.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sam Gringlas is a journalist at NPR's All Things Considered. In 2020, he helped cover the presidential election with NPR's Washington Desk and has also reported for NPR's business desk covering the workforce. He's produced and reported with NPR from across the country, as well as China and Mexico, covering topics like politics, trade, the environment, immigration and breaking news. He started as an intern at All Things Considered after graduating with a public policy degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the managing news editor at The Michigan Daily. He's a native Michigander.