Gwinnett-based House seat could be next target for Georgia Dems

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall during his first campaign for Congress in 2010, AJC file/Hyosub Shin

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall during his first campaign for Congress in 2010, AJC file/Hyosub Shin

Georgia Democrats hope that 6th District candidate Jon Ossoff is only the first in a string of contenders making waves in GOP strongholds. The next potential battleground could be Georgia's 7th Congressional District, which slices through much of Gwinnett County.

Washington analysts still consider the seat safely Republican, in part because it’s been held by the GOP for more than 20 years. Seismic demographic forces, though, are transforming the region.

Once one of the richest sources of Republican votes in the state, Gwinnett for the first time in 2016 no longer had a majority-white voting population. Hillary Clinton swept the county in November, flipping it blue for the first time in decades.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report now estimates the 7th District is one of the top Democratic-trending areas in the nation. That's given the party hopes it can recruit a strong challenger to take on Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall next year and other GOP incumbents in once-sleepy races.

“Before in Georgia, we were always looking for Democratic candidates to challenge Republicans,” said Stefan Turkheimer, a Democratic strategist. “Now we’ll have primaries to challenge Republicans. It’s kind of an amazing thing.”

Woodall, a low-profile policy geek who is known for his winding oratory — and accompanying poster boards — on the federal budget on the House floor, said the talk doesn’t worry him.

His district dodges the more diverse southern reaches of the county and also encompasses much of deeply conservative Forsyth County. He’s quick to acknowledge that the district’s design has helped insulate him from more electoral pressure.

“It’s gerrymandering that makes these things noncompetitive, right?” Woodall said in an interview. “Gwinnett County, if it was one district, it would be an incredibly competitive district.”

Read more of the story at MyAJC:  Will the ‘Ossoff effect’ propel Democrats beyond the 6th District?