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New Challenge for Judge in Trump Georgia Case: His Own Election

There are many reasons to believe that former President Donald J. Trump will not be going to trial in Georgia anytime soon. A controversy involving sex, money and the district attorney has slowed down the election interference case. Dozens of pretrial motions have yet to be resolved, and the United States Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals must still weigh in on key legal questions.

While it may not create nearly as much drag on the proceedings, there is also the fact that the presiding judge is busy running for election.

Very busy.

In the last few weeks, Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton Superior Court has been on a dizzying tour of the Atlanta area in an effort to hold on to his job — and in so doing, hold on to the Trump case, one that could eventually secure the judge’s place in the annals of history. Since early March, he has, by his own count, attended more than 30 campaign-related events, including three fund-raisers, three candidate forums, seven church services and a parade.

In a recent interview, Judge McAfee, 34, said that campaigning was “delaying every aspect” of his job. And while he enjoys many advantages over his rivals — as an incumbent in a down-ticket election whose work on the Trump case has earned him broad name recognition — he said he has no choice but to give the race his all. Losing the election, after all, would mean turning over the case, a complex racketeering prosecution with 15 defendants, to a new judge.

“It takes a lot of time,” he said. “I mean, I’ve to go get my message out there.”

Of the judges overseeing the four criminal cases against Mr. Trump, he is the only one who has to face voters. He was appointed to his post early last year by Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, filling a vacancy created by a judge who left office. He was young, but hardly inexperienced, having served as a county prosecutor (working under Fani T. Willis, now the Fulton County district attorney), as an assistant United States attorney, and as the Georgia inspector general.

The Trump case was randomly assigned to Judge McAfee under the rules of the Fulton County court system. He has noted that it is one of more than 400 other cases on his plate; he is aided by a single staff attorney.

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