Bourdeaux declares victory in Ga. 7th District but ballots still being counted

US congressional candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux speaks at the Get Out The Early Vote with Jon Ossoff, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Carolyn Bourdeaux, and the Biden Campaign at Shorty Howell Park in Duluth, Georgia, on Saturday, October 24, 2020. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

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US congressional candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux speaks at the Get Out The Early Vote with Jon Ossoff, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Carolyn Bourdeaux, and the Biden Campaign at Shorty Howell Park in Duluth, Georgia, on Saturday, October 24, 2020. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Carolyn Bourdeaux was much more certain about her election outcome Wednesday morning than she was in 2018.

In her first race, it took weeks of demanding more absentee ballots be counted before Bourdeaux, a Democrat, conceded a 433-vote defeat to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall. This year, before all of Gwinnett’s votes were counted and before any media organization called the 7th Congressional District race, Bourdeaux declared her win over Republican candidate Rich McCormick.

“The 7th Congressional District is ready for change,” Bourdeaux said in a Wednesday morning Facebook Live address. “I am here to be an advocate on behalf of the people of this district.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution follows the race calls made by the Associated Press. The AP has not called the result of the 7th Congressional District, which covers parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth, Georgia’s presidential vote or the race between Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

McCormick has not conceded the race. His campaign is still monitoring the results of outstanding ballots, a spokesman said early Wednesday morning.

If she is officially the winner, Bourdeaux will be the first Democrat to represent the once solidly Republican district since U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden, who lost the seat in 1994. Before 2018, incumbent Woodall had won each election by 20 points or more. He announced he would not run for re-election in 2020 shortly after his narrow 2018 win. Bourdeaux would also be the first woman to represent the district.

As of 9 a.m., Bourdeaux had 51.15% of all votes counted, a lead of 8,305 votes. Forsyth County, the southern tip of which is in the 7th District, has fully reported its results. Gwinnett County, the bulk of which is contained in the 7th, has not. Gwinnett election officials paused their count shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday with 4,400 absentee ballots and 500 provisional ballots left to count.

Gwinnett County also has to recount four days worth of early voting ballots from one early voting precinct scanner that had a corrupt card, and adjudicate 3,200 batches of absentee ballots in which at least one ballot in each batch is unreadable. That is likely between 80,000 and 160,000, according to the elections office.

Bourdeaux’s confidence is due in part to the heavy Democratic tilt in Gwinnett. As of 9 a.m., Bourdeaux was ahead of McCormick by 13.06 percentage points – 35,934 votes – in Gwinnett, compared to a 2.3% lead over McCormick in the district overall.

Bourdeaux declared victory around 2 a.m. Wednesday. After the polls closed Tuesday evening, she wouldn’t say whether she expected to know her fate sooner rather than later.

“We in Georgia are used to waiting,” she said. “We know how to be patient.”