Democrats launch new ‘majority project’ initiative to flip Georgia House

Spurred by the anti-abortion "heartbeat" law, state Democrats launched a new group Tuesday that seeks to flip control of the Georgia House by winning 16 Republican-held legislative seats.

The Georgia House Majority Project will zero in on the most vulnerable GOP incumbents by peppering their districts with digital ads, direct mail and voter outreach starting later this year, according to a press release.

The group's finance director is Bobby Kaple, a former newscaster who ran unsuccessfully for Georgia's 6th District last year. He said the organization has lined up a campaign team that includes veterans of President Barack Obama's campaign.

“Boycotts will only hurt hard-working Georgians,” said Kaple, referring to Hollywood figures threatening to bolt Georgia because of the anti-abortion law. “The kind of change we need happens at the ballot box in 2020 and requires us to stay and fight.”

The organization is a type of "independent expenditure group" that is legally barred from coordinating with political campaigns but can still spend money promoting candidates and attacking their rivals.

Democrats sense an opportunity to turn the tables on nearly two decades of Republican rule. The party flipped about a dozen seats in the Georgia Legislature in November, mostly in Atlanta's northern suburbs, leaving the GOP with a 105-75 advantage in the chamber.

(The Senate, where Republicans enjoy a 35-21 edge, is in firmer GOP control.)

Democrats are now circling 15 House seats where Republicans won by less than 55 percent that includes the Acworth-based district of state Rep. Ed Setzler, the GOP sponsor of the new abortion restrictions, which outlaw the procedure as early as six weeks.

The group is one of several efforts from abortion rights supporters to make Republicans pay for narrowly approving House Bill 481, which will face a certain legal challenge that's likely to trigger a years-long court battle before it can take effect in January.

Shortly after the measure passed, the Democratic Party of Georgia launched an initiative to target nearly 30 incumbent Republicans across the state. The list includes many supporters of the legislation but also several lawmakers who opposed it.

And left-leaning groups, such as the Georgia Win List, have helped unveil the candidacies of more than a dozen women challenging Republicans who voted for the measure.

Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republicans who won their races in November by appealing to the conservative base cast themselves as promise-keepers. And anti-abortion groups have launched initiatives of their own to help vulnerable Republicans fortify their seats.