State House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville, speaks on the House floor during the 2019 legislative session. Anti-abortion groups are targeting Trammell’s seat. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Anti-abortion group targets Georgia House Democratic leader

Anti-abortion activists have set their sights on ousting Georgia’s House Democratic leader — who narrowly won re-election last year in his rural district — for his vote against the state’s new law that severely limits the window for when a pregnancy can be terminated.

The Family Policy Alliance of Georgia went into the district of state House Minority Leader Bob Trammell on Monday to hold a press conference urging voters to oust the Luthersville Democrat in the 2020 elections for his vote against Georgia’s “heartbeat” bill.

House Bill 481, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, bans most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity — which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant.

The Family Policy Alliance of Georgia announced shortly after the legislative session ended that it plans to target the seats of people who voted against the “heartbeat” bill. Democrats are hoping to use the same legislation to take majority control of the House. If that happens, and Trammell wins re-election, he could become the next House speaker.

The Family Policy Alliance was one of the groups that lobbied in support of the legislation.

Trammell, a third-term House member who won his race last year with about 52% of the vote, said he hasn’t thought much about the calls for his replacement.

He represents House District 132, which is considered a toss-up for Democrats, if not Republican-leaning.

Voters in Trammell’s district supported Republican Brian Kemp in the governor’s race last year with about 51% of the vote. A little more than 50% of voters in the district supported the GOP’s Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

“It will be an election as usual in terms of the way we prepare for it,” Trammell said. “We do the same thing every two years — take our record to the voters.”

But Cole Muzio, the executive director of the Family Policy Alliance of Georgia, said he doesn’t think Trammell’s record will hold up with his constituents. He said Trammell is out of touch with his “conservative-ish” district.

The group held a press conference in Trammell’s district in Hogansville on Monday that Muzio said served to “put (Trammell) on notice” that anti-abortion voters are organizing to vote him out.

“This is focused on an individual who led the charge against (HB 481),” Muzio said. “He tried every technical maneuver he could, and he pulled together the opposition to the bill (during the House debate).”

The group has targeted 12 lawmakers who voted against HB 481, including two Republicans. Most on the list represent metro Atlanta districts.

Muzio said the group is working with other anti-abortion organizations to recruit candidates, raise money and campaign against abortion rights supporters who seek office.

Georgia Democrats have consistently vowed to challenge Republican lawmakers who voted for HB 481. Groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Georgia WIN List, and state Democratic groups have begun fundraising and candidate recruitment campaigns. Several women have announced their intent to run for office against Republicans next year over the anti-abortion votes.

“Democrats are going to continue to make gains in the Legislature because of the social policy that the Republicans have passed,” Trammell said. “We expect to pick up more seats in 2020.”

Trammell, who’s served as the House Democratic leader since 2017, is a rare white rural Democrat in the chamber.

He won his race last year by 749 votes against a Republican candidate whom he accused of not living in the district. The office of then-Secretary of State Kemp declined to investigate the claim.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at www.ajc.com/politics.

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