GOP candidates in 6th District jockey for title of most conservative

Screenshot taken during Sunday's Atlanta Press Club debate featuring all  nine Republicans competing in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

Credit: Screenshot

Credit: Screenshot

Screenshot taken during Sunday's Atlanta Press Club debate featuring all nine Republicans competing in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

The nine candidates competing for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District agree on most things policywise. So the race has devolved into a litmus test on conservatism.

The two perceived front-runners in the race — after collecting the most campaign cash and attracting the most prominent endorsements — are attorney Jake Evans and physician Richard McCormick. Both faced criticism during a debate Sunday — from each other and their challengers — that they are hiding more centrist opinions from voters in the metro Atlanta district.

Evans’ opponents pointed to a paper he wrote that discussed shifting funding from criminal justice to education and his past statements expressing skepticism about Donald Trump during his 2016 run for president. For McCormick, it was an endorsement he received from a group of moderate Republicans and allegations that he didn’t do enough to support Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Both men said they have been endorsed by conservatives who hold office at the local and federal levels and will best represent the newly drawn conservative district.

“We have tens of thousands of supporters who have donated to our campaign from all over,” McCormick said. “Anyone who is willing to fight the left.”

Evans later laid his claim to the title of most conservative, using a slogan tied to Trump. “I am the ‘America First’ candidate in this race,” he said.

The Republican-led General Assembly drew this seat in a way that makes it all but certain a Republican will win in November. As a result, incumbent U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, a Democrat, decided to run in the neighboring 7th District.

That left the 6th District as essentially an open seat and one that is likely to be decided in the May 24 primary or possibly a June runoff. The district now includes east Cobb County, part of Cherokee County, north Fulton County and all of Dawson and Forsyth counties.

The other candidates participating in the panel hosted by the Atlanta Press Club as part of the Loudermilk-Young Debate Series were former state Rep. Meagan Hanson, Byron Gatewood, Blake Harbin, Paulette Smith, Mallory Staples, Suzi Voyles and Eugene Yu.

Each of the candidates was asked whether he or she believes Joe Biden was the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and nearly all of them responded with falsehoods that the election was stolen from Trump and evidence of fraud was not properly investigated.

State election officials have said there’s no indication of fraud after three ballot counts and multiple investigations and court challenges.

Hanson was the only candidate who said plainly and accurately during Sunday’s debate that there is no proof the election was stolen, but she said she still has concerns when it comes to voting by mail. She applauded election changes Republicans pushed through the state Legislature in 2021.