At town hall, McBath doesn’t rule out bid for Senate in Georgia

Democrat also defends her decision not to join calls for Trump’s impeachment
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, at a town hall meeting in Marietta in April. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM



U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, at a town hall meeting in Marietta in April. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath signaled Sunday that she hasn't ruled out a bid for a newly-opened U.S. Senate seat, telling the crowd at a town hall meeting in Sandy Springs that she's ignoring the "chatter" about her potential candidacy.

“What I will tell you is that I’m invested in your future,” she told an audience of hundreds, responding to a pointed question pressing her on whether she would commit to seeking a second term in Georgia’s 6th District.

McBath, a first-term Democrat in one of the nation's most competitive districts, would be a formidable contender for either of Senate seats up for grabs in 2020 after notching the party's biggest victory in 2018 by flipping a Republican-held north Atlanta seat.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson's decision to step down at year's end has scrambled Georgia politics by triggering a 2020 election for his seat. Three Democrats have already announced challenges to U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is also on the ballot next year.

McBath is said to be seriously considering a run, though some state and national Democrats are urging her to stay in the U.S. House, where she has the advantage of incumbency against former Republican Rep. Karen Handel and several other Republicans looking to win back the seat.

More: Inside the quiet maneuvering to replace Johnny Isakson

She's among numerous other contenders kicking the tires. They include Michelle Nunn, a nonprofit executive who lost to Perdue in 2014; Jason Carter, the party's gubernatorial contender the same year; and DeKalb County Chief Executive Michael Thurmond, a three-time state labor commissioner.

There's also a crop of rising party leaders who have never sought statewide office before weighing a potential bid, a list that includes state Sens. Jen Jordan and Nikema Williams, and DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston.

If McBath entered the contest, however, she’d instantly be treated as a top contender – if not a front-runner.

That's because of her suburban Atlanta base of support, her fundraising ability and the possibility that gun control advocates who pumped more than $4.5 million into her 2018 campaign would redouble her efforts.

She engineered her victory by leveraging her platform as a national gun control advocate, sharing the tragic story of her teenaged son's murder in Florida to press for firearms restrictions that even some Georgia Democrats had resisted.

McBath also faced pushback for not joining more than 80 House Democrats calling for President Donald Trump's impeachment. McBath has echoed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by urging more congressional investigations before taking that step.

As she responded to two questions about her stance, one person in the crowd could be heard saying, “take a stand.” McBath, however, said she’s waiting for more testimony from “people who can give us the information we need.”

And she drew a line between the scrutiny into Trump and her own quest for justice involving her son’s murder, telling the audience crammed into the sanctuary of a Sandy Springs synagogue that “trust me, I’ve been through a situation like this.”

“This is a process. And having gone through a process of two and a half years trying to get justice for my son, processes are slow. Processes are tedious. And it takes a lot of time trying to get to the truth,” she said.

“What we are doing now is the next step,” she added. “It’s just the next step of a process. We have not completed the process yet.”