Why 'religious liberty' could be a litmus test in Georgia's 2018 election

A renewed debate over the "religious liberty" bill next year will return Georgia to the international spotlight after Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a version of the legislation in the face of boycott threats and other economic punishment.

Deal sent a not-so-subtle message to GOP officials when he told an August meeting of Republican House lawmakers that North Carolina has suffered a 3.8 percent loss in private sector jobs, according to data at the time, while Georgia added 2.6 percent more private sector gigs.

“And that’s all I will say about that,” Deal told the lawmakers.

Supporters of the legislation, meanwhile, already have one eye on the next round of elections. They are quick to contend the issue could become a litmus test in the race to replace Deal in two years if the stalemate continues.

“That will be the debate in 2018,” said state Sen. Josh McKoon, the legislation's most vocal sponsor.

More: The battle lines are already being drawn over next year's fight. Here is an early glimpse. 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

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.