Three years ago, Atlanta’s northern suburbs were considered comfortable ground for the GOP. But President’s Donald Trump’s election prompted a seismic political shift, particularly among the educated women who help form the core of the Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb-based 6th District.
The district played host to the most expensive House race in congressional history in 2017, when Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff faced off to succeed Tom Price.
Handel won that contest, but her surprise defeat at the hands of Democratic gun control activist Lucy McBath a year later solidified the 6th as key battleground territory. National groups are expected to pour millions into the district and the neighboring 7th this cycle.
Handel appears set for a rematch against McBath after three GOP candidates stopped their campaigns.
Here are the candidates:
Congresswoman Lucy McBath
McBath first got involved in politics after her teenage son was fatally shot in a racially-charged dispute in 2012. The flight attendant swiftly shifted her attention to the gun control debate, traveling the country as a surrogate for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. Still, McBath was a relative unknown in Georgia political circles when she announced last year that the Parkland, Fla., shootings had inspired her to run for Congress rather than the statehouse, as initially planned. Gun control and health care were the cornerstones of her initial congressional campaign, issues she discussed in deeply personal terms. McBath has continued to focus on those matters on Capitol Hill.
Former Congresswoman Karen Handel
Handel has been involved in Georgia politics for the better part of the last two decades, first as Fulton County Commission chairwoman. She went on to serve as secretary of state and ran unsuccessfully for governor and senator in 2010 and 2014. After arriving in Congress in summer 2017, Handel allied herself with GOP leaders, championing the party’s tax cuts and legislation tackling the opioid crisis and human trafficking. She campaigned with Trump but was critical of some of his trade policies. This time around, Handel has positioned herself closer to the president. She’s also tied McBath to more liberal members of the freshman class and raised questions about the Democrat’s residency in the 6th.
In late 2019, most of Handel’s primary opponents withdrew. State Sen. Brandon Beach suspended his campaign and said he’ll seek re-election to the Legislature instead.
Nicole Rodden, a former Merchant Marine, said she essentially ran out of campaign cash after raising a dismal $9,000 in the last fundraising quarter.
Marjorie Taylor Greene said she will instead compete for the heavily conservative 14th Congressional seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Graves even though she doesn’t live in the district.
Motivational speaker Donnie Bolena
Bolena ran unsuccessfully for Sandy Springs mayor in 2009 and describes himself as "a true conservative, card-carrying Christian and tea party Republican.” His policy priorities include building a wall on the southern border, ending abortion and "supporting America as a Christian nation and protecting the teaching of creation and the Holy Trinity." In August 2019, Bolena was briefly persuaded to drop out of the race by state and local party officials after proclaiming himself a white nationalist in a Facebook video. He rejoined the contest days later as an independent, not a Republican.
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