Hice, Bourdeaux say goodbyes as U.S. House terms end

Two members of Georgia’s congressional delegation won’t be back when the new session of Congress begins Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux lost her reelection bid, and U.S. Rep. Jody Hice decided to run for secretary of state instead of seeking another term in office.

Hice did not win that state-level race and will leave politics after eight years in Washington. During that time, he was an outspoken ally of Donald Trump, played a prominent role in the conservative House Freedom Caucus and staunchly opposed abortion.

“With God as my guide, I’ve set out in the last eight years to not only represent him well, but to represent Georgia’s 10th District in our country well,” Hice said during his farewell speech Dec. 14.

A former pastor in the Southern Baptist Church, Hice has not said whether he will seek public office again. He was recruited by Trump to challenge Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger but lost to the incumbent in the 2022 Republican primary.

Mike Collins will replace Hice in the 10th Congress District, which includes counties in east-central Georgia.

ExploreEverything you need to know about Georgia’s congressional delegation, 2023-2024

Bourdeaux also leaves Congress after losing a primary, this one against fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who decided to challenge Bourdeaux in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. Republicans had redrawn McBath’s 6th District in a way that made it unlikely a Democrat would win.

Two years earlier, Bourdeaux was the only Democrat to flip a Republican-held House seat when she won her first term in office after just narrowly losing to GOP incumbent Rob Woodall in 2018. Woodall decided not to seek another term in 2020, noting the changing demographics of the district that included most of Gwinnett County and part of Forsyth County.

Bourdeaux now steps away after a single term in office in that metro Atlanta district, but one where she cultivated a reputation as a moderate Democrat who was willing to buck the party line on fiscal issues. Earlier in her career, Bourdeaux had been praised for her bipartisan acumen as the budget office director for the Republican-led Georgia Senate.

Days before Christmas, Bourdeaux delivered her final floor speech. She started off by recounting one of her first days in office: Jan. 6, 2021. Bourdeaux said she, her sister and a couple of staffers were holed up in her office for hours as a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol. Once Congress was given the all-clear, she remembers a conversation with a top Democrat as they returned to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

“Majority Leader Steny Hoyer turned to me and said, ‘I bet this wasn’t what you expected when you ran for Congress,’ ” she said. “And I told him that, actually, I ran for Congress precisely so that I could be standing at this place at this time to take this vote to certify the election and to defend our democracy.”

ExploreThe questions that will shape Georgia politics in 2023