GSU professor jumps into expanding 7th District race with health care message

GSU Prof. Carolyn Bourdeaux and her family. Photo/ Bourdeaux campaign.

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

GSU Prof. Carolyn Bourdeaux and her family. Photo/ Bourdeaux campaign.

A Georgia State University professor is jumping into the rapidly expanding race for the state's 7th District congressional seat, challenging Republican Rob Woodall with a health care-focused platform.

Policy Prof. Carolyn Bourdeaux, a first time candidate, said her father's experience with swelling health care costs and frustration with the GOP's fledging Obamacare replacement effort drove her to run for office.

The House and Senate replacement bills "will allow insurance companies to raise rates for folks who have preexisting conditions," Bourdeaux said in an interview Wednesday.

“I cannot sit behind my desk anymore,” she said.

The Democrat said lawmakers should fully implement Obamacare, and Georgia fully expand Medicaid, before exploring other solutions that would expand access to health care, but she added there is "more than one way to skin a cat."

Bourdeaux put some distance between herself and another famous Democrat who made a name for himself a few miles to the west in Georgia's 6th District. Unlike Jon Ossoff, who rarely mentioned President Donald Trump during his last few months on the trail, Bourdeaux said the commander-in-chief has been "fairly irresponsible."

“There needs to be a Congress and a congressperson in this district who is willing to challenge him," she said.

Bourdeaux, who once ran the state Senate's budget office, entered the race with the endorsements of U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young.

The race to challenge Woodall has grown increasingly crowded in recent weeks, corresponding with a surge of political activism on the left. The Gwinnett-based 7th District is seen as a particularly enticing prospect for Democrats given Ossoff's relatively strong showing in the 6th and the county's rapidly diversifying demographics. But many of the same structural obstacles that Ossoff struggled to clear are also present in the 7th, including a deep Republican base.

One thing Democrats almost certainly won't be able to replicate in the 7th is Ossoff's record-setting fundraising, a point Woodall and other Republicans have pointed out repeatedly. Bourdeaux said she plans to finance her run with fundraising, particularly from small donors.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Attorney Steve Reilly, who was the Democratic nominee for the 7th District seat in 2012, announced his candidacy in June and is planning to kickoff his campaign in his home base of Lawrenceville later this month. There's also Kathleen Allen, a prominent local homeless advocate and nonprofit executive, and David Kim, the Harvard-trained founder of a national test prep company who has enlisted the help of veteran campaign consultant Joe Trippi.

Read more: Democrats take aim at Gwinnett-based 7th Congressional District