Sally Harrell, the Democratic candidate for state Senate District 40/Special

Georgia Republicans slam Democrat over ‘cockroach’ attack

The Georgia GOP called on a Democratic state senator to resign after she referred to Republicans pushing anti-abortion measures as “cockroaches.”

The remarks by state Sen. Sally Harrell came Sunday at a Democratic event in Dunwoody, when she criticized Republicans who supported new restrictions that seek to ban most abortions as early as six weeks. 

“You know what a cockroach does when it gets on its back – it kicks a lot,” she said, describing the GOP effort to pass conservative legislation. “The cockroach is on its back.” 

That sparked immediate outcry from Republicans who assailed her for referring to political opponents as bugs, including some politicians and party leaders who demanded that she step down.

“It’s despicable that you call all the women below ‘cockroaches,’” the state GOP said in a tweet that showed dozens of women at a recent rally for President Donald Trump. It added that Harrell “should resign.”  

Harrell defeated Republican state Sen. Fran Millar last year to flip a Dunwoody-based district that was long held by the GOP, and she’s emerged as a leading voice in the statehouse for abortion rights. She said in statement Tuesday that she was “not calling anyone names.”

“I was using a metaphor to describe the push for very conservative policies that are not popular with the majority of voters,” she said. “The anti-abortion bill is a good example.” 

Republicans drew a line between Harrell’s remarks and Democratic outrage over Trump’s behavior. 

“Just imagine the liberal outrage if President Trump said this,” said state Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican running for Georgia’s 7th District. 

Leading state Democrats, meanwhile, dismissed the GOP attacks. Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, one of three Democrats running for U.S. Senate, took a tongue-in-cheek approach in a Twitter exchange. 

“I generally despise cockroaches, but respect to their survivability,” he wrote, “however if we don’t take action on the climate crisis they may be the only species left.”

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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