House Democrats to make early investment in Atlanta suburbs

Then-Democratic candidate Lucy McBath speaks to campaign volunteers and supporters on Oct. 13, 2018, in Atlanta. Branden Camp/Special

Then-Democratic candidate Lucy McBath speaks to campaign volunteers and supporters on Oct. 13, 2018, in Atlanta. Branden Camp/Special

House Democrats watched last year’s congressional races in suburban Atlanta largely from the sidelines, but the party is indicating that won’t be the case in 2020.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it’s staffing up in Georgia’s 6th and 7th congressional districts, a notable early investment as the party seeks to defend and expand upon gains made in the midterms.

The DCCC announced the upcoming hires Thursday as part of a new multi-million-dollar campaign called March Forward. The party said it plans to hire nearly 60 grassroots organizers to help build out its infrastructure in key districts across the country long before the 2020 elections.

“With Democrats taking nothing for granted in 2020, March Forward is designed to engage our new Democratic coalition while bringing more Americans into the Democratic Party by working to earn support both in big cities and small towns,” the DCCC said in its announcement.

The party declined to say how many organizers it plans to send to the north Atlanta suburbs, but its move to hire paid field staff represents the DCCC’s biggest on-the-ground investment in Georgia since the 6th District special election in 2017.

Read more: Atlanta's suburban U.S. House seats are back in the crosshairs

The strategy represents a major change from last year, when D.C.’s political establishment focused its efforts on congressional races outside the state.

Beyond providing some organizational and fundraising support to Lucy McBath in the 6th and Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th, the DCCC largely stayed out of Georgia. The National Republican Congressional Committee didn't spend any money to protect U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, in 2018 and only stepped in to aid 6th District incumbent Karen Handel in the final weeks of the race.

The upcoming campaign cycle will almost certainly be a different story. Both parties are zeroing in on fast-changing suburban districts that were once deeply Republican but are now in play because of demographic changes and opposition to President Donald Trump.

The contest to replace Woodall, who announced his retirement last month, in the Gwinnett and Forsyth-based 7th District has already become a free-for-all. Three Democrats, including Bourdeaux, have entered the race, and more than a half-dozen other potential candidates are also eyeing the seat.

In the Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton-based 6th District, the NRCC has been picking apart every vote cast by McBath, who pulled off an upset win over incumbent Karen Handel last fall. Handel is quietly preparing to challenge the Marietta Democrat in 2020, and state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, has already entered the race.

The DCCC plans to fortify McBath and provide organizational advice to potential 7th District Democratic candidates with its new investment.

The NRCC is focusing its efforts next year on 55 Democratic incumbents, including 31 representing districts that voted for Trump in 2016. Spokeswoman Camille Gallo sought to undercut the DCCC’s announcement Thursday.

"If anyone had any doubt the Democratic Party has become a socialist mob, look no further than the DCCC's 2020 strategy – paid protesters," said Gallo, pointing to an NBC News story that highlighted protests the DCCC helped coordinate against a Republican incumbent last year.

The DCCC has said “Republican accountability” will be one of the focuses of its new grassroots organizers leading up to 2020.

About the Author