Democrat drops out of race for Tom Price's seat, endorses rival

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

The first Democrat in the race to replace Rep. Tom Price is now the first Democrat to drop out.

Attorney Joshua McLaurin said Tuesday he was out of the running to succeed the Republican. His announcement comes after three other Democrats, with closer ties to party officials, have entered the contest.

McLaurin said in a Facebook post he's backing Jon Ossoff, an investigative filmmaker who said he has lined up more than $250,000 in financial commitments from supporters and the backing of two other Georgia Democratic power-brokers: Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson.

"When it comes to winning the 6th, Jon is now the leader of my team," McLaurin said. "As a member of that team, I call on him and other Democrats to remember: while it's OK to voice our fears about the threats to our country and our personal lives, let's not build the Democratic Party's identity around a rejection of President-elect Trump. That's an isolating and dis-empowering approach."

Democrats face an uphill battle in the heavily conservative district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb. Price, who was tapped as Trump's health secretary, won it by more than 60 percent of the vote.

But Democrats hope they can turn the contest - one of the first since Trump's election - into an upset victory if they unify behind a candidate and squeak into a runoff.

So far, two other Democrats are in the running: Former state Sen. Ron Slotin and former state Rep. Sally Harrell. Harrell enjoys the support of local Democrats, including state Rep. Scott Holcomb and state Sen. Elena Parent.

The GOP side of the contest, which is likely to be set by Gov. Nathan Deal in the summer, has been slower to form.

Although only one well-known Republican has formally entered the race - state Sen. Judson Hill - a range of other GOP contenders are likely to jump in. They include former Secretary of State Karen Handel and ex-state Sen. Dan Moody.