When U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath announced in November 2021 that she would be running for a seat in a neighboring district, she pledged to move into Gwinnett County if she won her election.
She won, defeating fellow Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the May 2022 primary and sailing through the November general election to become the congressional representative for Georgia’s 7th District. But McBath still lives in Marietta in Cobb County, which is in her old 6th District.
She isn’t breaking any laws or rules by doing so; members of Congress are only required to live in the states they represent. McBath’s case is hardly a rare one. Of Georgia’s 14-member U.S. House delegation, four lawmakers do not live in the districts they represent.
Rep. David Scott has long represented heavily Black suburbs south of Atlanta. However, his home is farther north, within the Atlanta city limits.
Newly elected Rep. Rich McCormick represents the 6th District, which includes parts of Gwinnett County, but his house is in Suwanee just outside of the boundary lines. It falls within Georgia’s 9th Congressional District.
The 9th District representative, Andrew Clyde, did reside within the boundaries when he was first elected in 2020. But after redistricting led to a new map for last year’s campaign cycle, Clyde’s Jackson County home is now in the 10th District.
McBath’s spokesman said she still plans to make good on her campaign promise to move, although he would not provide a timeline of when she will do so or specify what steps she has taken to relocate so far.
Scott’s office declined to discuss the issue. Clyde and McCormick said they have no plans to change addresses.
McCormick said the fact his home falls slightly outside of the boundary lines of his seat doesn’t affect his ability to serve.
“Every day I’m in district, I’m in Cumming, which is in the middle of my district,” he said. “I am setting up mobile offices in every portion. Every time I’m in my district, I’m in my district. Now, where I sleep is nobody’s business.”
Suzzette Miller-Blackmon, who lives in Lawrenceville, voted for McBath and was surprised to hear her congresswoman is not a neighbor. Miller-Blackmon said lawmakers should live within the areas they represent in order to fully understand the issues, such as concerns about policing.
“What do you think, you could represent a district that you don’t totally believe in enough to live there?” Miller-Blackmon said. “That brings a question for me. Because if you don’t think Gwinnett County is good enough to live in, how can you feel that you are a perfect person to represent that county?”
Miller-Blackmon said she wants to see McBath make good on her pledge to move to the area.
“I think when she announced that she was going to do that, she should have been in the process of moving,” she said. “So I really believe it should already be in process.”
Christy Bravo lives in Cornelia, which is represented by Clyde. She believes that members should live in the districts they represent so they have firsthand experience of the needs there.
But Bravo said Clyde is a special circumstance because the lines changed after he was elected, and she does not think he should be pressured to move. But Bravo does believe her congressman should now put extra effort into visiting the northeast Georgia counties that form the 9th District.
“I think he needs to get out and talk to the real people that actually work in the district and who pay the tax dollars and see what the actual needs of many people are,” Bravo said. “Because especially in our area, there is a really big need for health care that people can’t really afford.”
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