Georgia Democrats look to win key Gwinnett races

Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, a candidate for Georgia's 7th Congressional District seat, chats with supporters during an event at Pleasant Hills Baptist Church in Lawrenceville on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Tia Mitchell/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, a candidate for Georgia's 7th Congressional District seat, chats with supporters during an event at Pleasant Hills Baptist Church in Lawrenceville on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Tia Mitchell/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

LAWRENCEVILLE — Democrats in Gwinnett County are poised to turn the tide after years of GOP control, U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff told a crowd of supporters gathered in a church parking lot recently. In the process, he said, Gwinnett voters can lead the way in turning Georgia blue.

“Gwinnett County in the last several years has been a symbol of the political transformation of this state," Ossoff said. “There are many things that make Gwinnett County wonderful and beautiful, but Gwinnett County’s diversity, Gwinnett County’s welcoming spirit, the way that this county represents a society where people of all backgrounds and faiths and races work together, live together, look out for each other, put what we share ahead of what divides us: that’s what Gwinnett County stands for.”

Two years ago, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux came within 500 votes of unseating incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, a Republican, in the 7th Congressional District. The seat includes most of Gwinnett and parts of south Forsyth County. Woodall decided not to run again.

Most election prognosticators say Bourdeaux’s match this year against Republican Rich McCormick is just as competitive but give her the upper-hand.

Democrats are also hopeful about winning other high-profile offices in Gwinnett like county commission chair and sheriff.

Demographic shifts and voter enthusiasm help explain their confidence. Turnout through the end of early voting was slightly higher in Gwinnett than the state overall; 53% of registered voters have cast ballots compared to 51% statewide.

Since 2008, Gwinnett’s Hispanic registered voters have increased from 3% to 9% of the total, its share of Black voters increased from 21% to 28%, and the number of Asian-American voters has also risen. The percentage of white voters fell from 63% to 40%. Statewide, 53% of current voters identify as white.

Bourdeaux said she can win her race.

“We’re just seeing extraordinary surge in turnout,” she said on Friday. “Today, we crossed the line for 2016 turnout number, and we are currently projecting that more people will vote in this election than were registered to vote in 2016.”

McCormick’s campaign spokesman said Republicans are just as confident that they can hold onto the Congressional District 7 seat. John Simpson cited high turnout in Forsyth, where voters are more conservative. He also believes McCormick’s story has resonated among Latino and Black voters who are willing to support a Republican.

An emergency room physician and veteran, McCormick earned his medical degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine where he also was an elected student leader.

Simpson pointed to national polls that indicate Black and Latino voters back President Donald Trump in higher numbers this year than 2016. That could help down-ballot candidates like McCormick, he said.

“There are a lot of African-American votes that are going towards Trump; we think that bodes very well for Dr. McCormick," Simpson said. "He has a very good relationship with the Black community; we think all those trends are positive for him.”

Mark Niesse contributed to this report.

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