In the spring of 2017, Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District saw the most expensive House race in history. Jon Ossoff (D) and Karen Handel (R) battled it out for then-Interior Secretary Tom Price’s vacated seat – a race that Handel narrowly won. Even with the eyes – and dollars – of the nation laser-focused on that special election, the Democrats couldn’t pull it off. This is a testament to the district’s Cook rating of R+8 and four decades of GOP domination.
That’s why Lucy McBathcaught my attention for polling even or slightly ahead Republican incumbent Karen Handel as we close in on a week out from Election Day.
McBath’s performance in this race is no fluke; she is one of the strongest, most unique candidates running in this cycle. She rose to national prominence in 2012 when her teenage son, Jordan Davis, was shot by a white man for playing rap music too loudly. After the Parkland massacre this February, she decided to run for Congress – grounding her campaign in “being Jordan’s mom” and advocating loudly for gun sense measures.
But you can’t dismiss her as just a single-issue candidate. Her candidacy has also brought racial justice to the forefront of the national political conversation and, having survived two bouts with breast cancer, she has been extremely vocal on improving access to quality health care including expanding Medicaid in Georgia.
Still, this race is intensely personal for McBath – which fuels her campaign with an energy and aurora that is impossible to ignore. Again, we see the importance and impact of candidate authenticity for Democrats as the key factor in tough races.
And the odds may be in her favor. Democrats are eyeing districts like Georgia’s Sixth – which is mostly suburban, just outside a major city, and only went for Trump by a single point – as prime targets on the path to the majority, and they’re having a fair amount of success with those audiences. Over the last few weeks, the NRCC has jumped in with television ad buys – a sign that the race is growing increasingly more worrisome for Handel.
Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is also helping out down-ticket races; her equally-inspirational run is energizing and registering first-time voters and minority communities across the entire state, which will act as a significant boost for Democrats like McBath.
While Democrats may have been slightly off base when asserting that Georgia would finally flip blue in 2016, it feels like it’s certainly moving in that direction. If anyone has a shot to keep moving the ball forward in Georgia by toppling this battleground district, it’s McBath.