Republican Evans mounts 6th District bid as ‘conservative trailblazer’

Jake Evans

Jake Evans

The former chairman of the Georgia ethics commission entered the race Tuesday for a suburban U.S. House seat, framing himself as a “conservative trailblazer” who would unite fellow Republicans to defeat Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath.

Jake Evans said in an interview he joined the contest because “the radical left is seeking to erase our culture, our values and our American identity” and Republicans needed a new catalyst to energize voters in once-reliably conservative territory.

“I’m a fighter for the people and I deliver results for the people,” said Evans. “We’re going to run an unafraid conservative campaign because America needs fighters who will stand up for the Constitution and not for political opportunism.”

He’s the second well-known Republican in as many days to announce a campaign for the 6th District. Former state Rep. Meagan Hanson launched her bid on Monday. Other candidates include U.S. Army veteran Harold Earls and activist Suzi Voyles.

Evans has long planned to challenge McBath, who flipped the seat in 2018 and fended off a comeback attempt by Karen Handel last year. He stepped down from the ethics commission in June after roughly five years as its chair, a precursor to his campaign announcement.

He invoked his service on the commission in the interview and a splashy campaign video, which features footage of Evans and his wife Baylie off-roading through soggy terrain in a white Jeep, splattering mud on cut-outs of President Joe Biden and other leading Democrats.

“Unlike Joe Biden and the radical left, I can see the forest through the trees,” he said in the video, as he steers the Jeep through puddles that sprayed glops of mud on images of the Democratic figures.

Evans was tapped by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016 to serve on the ethics commission. His father, Randy, was one of Deal’s lawyers and a close adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He later served as an ambassador to Luxembourg in the Donald Trump administration.

Among his legal cases, Evans uncovered mapmaking mistakes and ineligible voters that led to two separate do-over votes in a Republican-on-Republican legislative contest in a heavily-conservative district in north Georgia.

The 6th District was the launching pad for a generation of leading Republicans, including Gingrich, former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Tom Price, who vacated the seat in 2017 to serve as Trump’s health secretary. That same year, Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in what was the most expensive U.S. House election in history.

But McBath’s upset victory over Handel in 2018 was part of a broader suburban revolt against Trump’s policies. Since then, the district has swung further to the left, part of what Democrats hope is a lasting realignment in the bedroom communities circling Atlanta.

Just what the district will look like next year is still unclear. The candidates entering the race are taking something of a gamble, since none can be certain how the political lines are redrawn by the Republican-controlled state Legislature later this year.

It now stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb along Atlanta’s Northern Arc, though the shape can change drastically if GOP leaders decide to incorporate more exurban territory to make it more competitive.

Evans said he’s in the race no matter how the boundaries are drawn, comparing the 2022 midterm to the Republican resurgence in 1994 that propelled Gingrich to power.

“We fully expect to mount a revolution,” he said, “and it starts right here in Georgia in the 6th District.”