The Jolt: New congressional map leaves Georgia incumbents with big decisions

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
05/21/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Rep. Lucy McBath speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. office space in downtown Atlanta, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/

05/21/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Rep. Lucy McBath speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. office space in downtown Atlanta, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer /

Georgia Republicans made it official Wednesday that their intent is to pass a new congressional map that gives them a better chance of taking back at least one seat from Democratic control.

The AJC’s Mark Niesse and Maya T. Prabhu tell us the new lines make U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s 6th District seat “distinctly Republican” by removing parts of DeKalb and Fulton counties and adding in Forsyth, Cherokee and Dawson counties. Now she must decide whether to run for a seat that will be hard to win, switch to a neighboring district or seek another office all together.

Meanwhile, as projected by a draft map released a few weeks ago, Carolyn Bourdeaux’s 7th District becomes more compact and mostly contained to Gwinnett County with parts of Fulton. That makes it more solidly Democratic but increases the chances that Bourdeaux faces a primary challenge. Bourdeaux’s campaign tells us she plans to run for re-election.

Bourdeaux currently lives outside the boundaries of the new district. That isn’t against the rules but leaves a question of whether she might move to have an in-district address ahead of 2022.

There was a lot of speculation about what Republicans, who control the redistricting process, would do to Rep. Sanford Bishop’s 2nd District in Southwest Georgia. In the end, it didn’t change by much although the Black population has decreased from 51% to 49%.

Bishop told Tia Wednesday he’s “absolutely” running for reelection and believes he has a strong case to make to voters based on 28 years in office. In fact, he didn’t appear to be too concerned about the new map at all, saying that in many ways his new district looks like his old one (although he said he wanted to study it more).

The question Democrats are pondering today is whether another member of their party could win whenever Bishop retires, which would likely be within the next decade and before another change of the maps.

One last note about the map: Rep. Andrew Clyde’s home was drawn out of his 9th District. Of course, Clyde doesn’t have to live within the boundaries to keep his Northeast Georgia seat. But his congressman most likely will be whoever wins the crowded GOP primary in the 10th District where Rep. Jody Hice has decided to seek a statewide office instead of running for another term.

Want more analysis? Bluestein has a closer look at the biggest political questions stemming from Georgia’s new congressional maps.


Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue hasn’t yet launched a primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp. But the 2022 battle lines are already being drawn.

Perdue previewed a potential line of attack against Kemp in an interview Wednesday with our friend Martha Zoller, suggesting that the governor and other leaders “caved” by refusing Donald Trump’s demands to overturn the election.

That led to a Twitter tit-for-tat between some of the state’s top officials that signaled just how deep the GOP rift could go.

It started when Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan cited the AJC coverage of Perdue’s remarks in a swipe at him, saying he “couldn’t beat Jon Ossoff in 2020 using this same rhetoric.”

Perdue responded with a broadside against his former ally.

“Why didn’t you fight for all of us then instead of fighting us now? You guys are too focused on fighting Trump, instead of stopping Biden & saving GA.”

Later, state Sen. Burt Jones – a Trump-endorsed candidate to succeed Duncan – got in on the action.

“Senator Perdue is right,” Jones wrote. “Geoff Duncan and Senate Leadership are the ones who divided our party and failed our state by putting their own political self interests ahead of the voters.”


There’s no question that Gov. Brian Kemp is taking the threat of a primary challenge from David Perdue seriously.

That might help explain why late Wednesday he asked the State Election Board to open an investigation into Fulton County’s audit of last year’s presidential election.

As our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reports, Kemp sent a letter to the board calling on them to quickly review allegations brought to his office by two Houston County residents who claimed the election audit was fraudulent in a letter to the editor of the Houston Home Journal.

Kemp wrote that he’s not disputing the outcome of the 2020 election, which Democrat Joe Biden won by about 12,000 votes. Those results were verified by two machine counts and an audit that recounted ballots by hand.

But Kemp said his office vetted the allegations and cited 36 inconsistencies in the audit, including batches of ballots with 100% of votes for Biden, duplicated batches and misidentified data.

While it’s true that the audit showed some batches with all ballots cast for one candidate or the other, auditors had sorted ballots into stacks for each candidate, and it’s possible that ballots were tallied that way instead of being kept in their original order.

The State Election Board is already investigating Fulton County’s elections board under Georgia’s new voting law. After a performance review, the state board could decide whether to replace the Fulton board and install its own administrator. Election investigators could also review Kemp’s latest allegations separately.


With early voting now underway in the Atlanta mayoral runoff, we have more details on who voted in the contest in November.

According to an analysis of publicly available information compiled by the Secretary of State’s office, the City of Atlanta November electorate was:

  • White: 48.1%
  • Black: 37.1%
  • Unknown: 9.8%
  • Other: 1.7%
  • Asian Pacific: 1.6%
  • Hispanic: 1.6%
  • Native American: 0.2%


Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been beefing with former President Donald Trump ever since the 2020 general election. But he wouldn’t rule out voting for Trump again, leaving MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan “stunned.”


Georgia leads the nation in the percentage of state legislators who are Black women, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, as reported by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The 40 Black women who currently serve in the General Assembly make up 16.9% of the total. That puts Georgia ahead of all other states according to the analysis.

That same report also notes that many of the successful women in politics in Georgia can be traced back to support from the Georgia WIN List, the political committee founded by Melita Easters that supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates.


The U.S. House voted to censure Arizona’s U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar and stripped him of committees in a resolution supported by all of the chamber’s Democrats and two Republicans.

Georgia’s delegation split strictly along party lines. All six of the state’s Democrats were in favor, and seven of eight Republicans voted “no.”

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk was sick and not in D.C., his office said. His spokesman did not respond to an email asking how Loudermilk would have voted if he had been present.

Gosar was punished for posting on social media an edited cartoon depicting him killing New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a frequent target of conservatives, before turning toward President Joe Biden.

He said he did not intend to encourage violence, but Democrats wanted to send a message that such actions can’t be tolerated and could invite harm on elected officials.

This was the first censure of a House member since the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, a Democrat, was censured following an Ethics investigation into fraud charges in 2010. Of course, it was the second time this year that Democrats stripped a GOP member of committees after controversial actions, the first being Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Immediately after the vote, Gosar was required to stand on the House floor and accept his verbal reprimand. Greene and fellow Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde were among roughly a dozen members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who stood with him.

Neither wore a mask, meaning their running totals of fines will each increase by $2,500.


David Belle Isle is getting big names to headline his fundraisers for secretary of state.

Former Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle helmed his Gainesville event two weeks ago. Former Gov. Nathan Deal, who endorsed Belle Isle, headlined a fundraiser this week in Cornelia.

And former Gov. Sonny Perdue attended a Belle Isle fundraiser Wednesday at the Houston Lake Country Club. He introduced Belle Isle, a Republican, but did not issue a formal endorsement.

The Donald Trump-endorsed candidate in the race is U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.


U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and other Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have written a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts about a controversy regarding a clerk hired by an Atlanta-based federal appellate judge and another federal judge in Alabama.

The letter says that Chief Judge William Pryor of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Corey Maze of the Northern District of Alabama hired a law clerk “with a widely reported pattern of racist and bigoted conduct.”

The clerk in question is Crystal Clanton, a student at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Virginia. Above the Law, a blog focused on legal affairs, was the first to report about Clanton receiving the clerkships while also pointing out questionable remarks she made while working for conservative organization Turning Point USA.

A 2017 article in the New Yorker magazine described an environment hostile to minorities at Turning Point and pointed to screenshots from Clanton’s text messages as an example.

Asked about those messages at the time, she told the reporter, “I have no recollection of these messages and they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.”


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