GOPer Karen Handel and the NRA Target Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath June 11, 2019
It doesn’t matter how bad their unsuccessful candidates were, or the reactionary record some former GOPers had in Congress. It’s all about political “payback.” In Campaign 2020, failed GOP candidate Young Kim, who lost in 11/2018 to Democrat Gil Cisneros in Orange County’s 39th Congressional District, the La Habra/Fullerton area, is going for a rematch in 2020 (ballotpedia.org/Young Kim). And in pivotal GA, in the swingy Peachtree State 6th Congressional District, defeated GOPer Rep. Karen Handel is planning a rematch also against a 1st- term Democratic member of Congress, Lucy McBath (shareblue.com/karen-handel, 6/03/19, Singer, E.). This GA race has already become a negative and cynical one. At a 3/28/2019 town hall meeting, Handel was caught on camera claiming that the only reason McBath won in 2018 was thanks to the “emotion” that came after her teenage son was senselessly shot to death. In a recording obtained by Shareblue from that E. Cobb, GA event, Handel is heard saying on video, “Now she (McBath) won’t be able to run on emotion. She will have to run on her own record (shareblue.com, Singer, E., 6/03/19).” Never mind the fact that McBath defeated Handel in the traditionally GOP GA 6th by running on issues-- gun control and health care . It was the 2018 GOP that ran on fake emotion/scare tactics. It unsuccessfully attempted to tie McBath to “Team Red’s” perpetual bogey-woman, then House Minority Leader, now Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Singer, shareblue.com).
One of the GOP’s favorite boosters, the National Rifle Association (NRA), went beyond Handel in the smear department. Attacking Cong. McBath, NRA President Carolyn Meadows told the Marietta, GA Daily Journal in 5/2019 that “It is wrong to say like McBath said, that the reason she won was because of her anti-gun stance. That didn’t have anything to do with it—it had to do with being a minority female (shareblue.com, Singer, E., 6/03/19).” Get it? Ex-Cong. Handel and her NRA GOP ally are going after Cong. McBath because she is too “emotional” over her son being killed by a firearm, or even worse, McBath’s being an African America female. Since when is being an African American female a “big plus” in the Deep South? Translation: It’s all about GOPers using guns and the race card as they shamelessly too often do. Let’s look at the 2020 McBath-Handel rematch.
As previously noted, first-term Congresswoman Lucy McBath (59) currently represents the GA 6th Congressional District (CD). The post-redrawn 2010 GA 6th lies in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. The 6th CD stretches from the Atlanta city limits to the Appalachian foothills. The 6th consists of chunks of DeKalb, Cobb, and Fulton Counties. This CD contains the cities of Roswell, Alpharetta, and parts of Sandy Springs and Marietta. The 6th has office parks, malls, and established suburbs. Home Depot is based in Sandy Springs. Kimberly-Clark has a corporate office in Roswell, and GE Management has its headquarters in the 6th’s southern end. Hispanics constitute 12% of this CD, Asians 11%, and African Americans 15%. The 6th has the highest median income of all GA’s congressional districts ($92, 317) and has the highest amount of GA residents with a college degree (56%). The 6th , however, remains predominately white (60%) and is normally GOP. The latest Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the Peachtree State 6th an R+ 8 score (CQ & Barone 14 Almanacs, census.gov, cookpoltical.com/file, 4/07/17). In 2012, the 6th went for Romney by 24 points (CQ & Barone 14). Until McBath won this seat in 2018, a Democrat had last represented this area in 1979. The 6th has been represented by prominent GOPers. These have included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, current GA Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Tom Price, whom Trump appointed to head Health and Human Services (HHS). Price was later forced to resign that post because of his frequent use of military and charter aircraft for travel. When in Congress, Price had always been handily re-elected in the 6th. In 2016, he won by 24 points (TPM, 4/18/17, Marshall). Democrat Jon Ossoff lost a special election to replace Price in 2017 by just 3.8 percentage points because Trump was unpopular in that educated and affluent district. (nytimes.com, 6/21/17). In the GA 6th , Trump only beat Hillary by 1.5 points(Rubin, J. , Wash. Post, 4/19/17).
Joliet, IL native Lucy McBath’s father was a dentist who owned an African American newspaper, and served as president of the NAACP’s IL chapter. Her mother worked as a nurse. Lucy Mc Bath received her 1982 undergraduate degree from VA State University. After college, McBath interned for Douglas Wilder, later elected as VA’s only black governor. In the 1990’s, McBath became a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and moved to Atlanta, Delta’s headquarters (votessmart.org/biography, Chavez, N., CNN Politics, 5/20/18, Mother Jones, March/April, 2018, King, J.).
In 2012, McBath’s 17-year old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed following an argument at a gas station about loud music. After his death, McBath became active against gun violence. She became a national spokeswoman for the “Moms Demand Gun Sense in America” group, and attended a speech on gun violence at the White House given by President Obama. She appeared in a documentary film exploring her son’s shooting. McBath traveled around the country with the “Mothers of the Movement,” a group of black mothers whose children have been killed by the police or by gun violence, to campaign for Hillary Clinton in 2016. McBath spoke at the Democratic Convention on Hillary’s behalf. McBath helped defeat legislation in the FL Legislature that would expand campus carry of weapons (politics.myajc.com, Bluestein, G, 3/06/18, Torres, myajc.com, 7/26/16). After the Stoneman Douglas, FL high school shooting, McBath decided to challenge rookie GOP Congresswoman Karen Handel in the GA 6th . McBath ran because she believed the government was not doing enough to prevent gun violence. In the general election, she defeated Handel by a 1.92% margin, 164, 353 votes v. 156, 427, or 7,926 votes (GA 6th Cong. Results).
In the House, Cong. McBath stood for the issues she had campaigned on. McBath, who survived two bouts of breast cancer, supports Obamacare and wants to expand Medicaid in GA. She wants to lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 55. She is pro-choice and a Planned Parenthood supporter. She is critical of the top 1% Trump/GOP tax cut, but would like to make middle-class tax cuts permanent. McBath advocates universal background checks before purchasing a firearm and wants to create “red flag” laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who are strongly at risk of becoming violent (politics.myajc.com) She has voted with San Bernardino, CA Democrat Pete Aguilar 96% of the time in the current 116th Congress. Although she has not voted at all with Donald, Cong. McBath has voted with next door GA 7th District GOPer Rob Woodall 37% of the time (projectspropublica.org). She is, in effect, progressive and anti-Trump but willing to vote nearly 40% of the time with a conservative GOPer from her home state (See projects.fivethirtyeight.com).
And here’s Karen Handel, the former GOP Congresswoman McBath defeated who now wants her seat back. D.C. native Handel (57) worked as deputy chief of staff to Marilyn Quayle, the wife of H.W.’s Vice-President. In 2002, Handel was appointed deputy chief of staff by GA GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue (“Times Georgian 2009). In 2009, Handel was elected GA’s first GOP Sec. of State. As Sec. of State, Handel implemented GA’s strict photo ID law which requires voters to show state-issued photo identification prior to voting in person. She purged voter rolls. State officials could not point to one single case of ballot fraud that this law ever prevented, although 50,000 registered GA voters were forced to prove their eligibility to vote. In 2009, the Justice Dept. ordered a halt to this “verification” program that hurt minority voters (Atlanta Journal Constitution, CNN, 10/26/08, foxnews.com, 6/02/09). Despite Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney’s endorsements, Handel lost the 2010 GA governor’s race (sos.georgia.gov/elections, ajc.com, Selzer, 12/22/09).
In 2011, Handel was appointed Senor VP of public policy at the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity. In that post, Handel pushed the Komen charity to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Under Handel’s influence, Komen denied over $650,000 to that group for breast cancer screening, because Planned Parenthood was under “investigation” by the GOP House over whether it provided abortion services. Handel, a strong anti-abortion advocate, had previously stated she did not support “the mission of Planned Parenthood.” After a huge public outcry and threats to boycott Komen, Handel resigned and Komen reversed Handel’s anti-Planned Parenthood stance (Wash. Post, Kliff, 2/07/12). In 2012, Handel published a book called “Planned Bullyhood” that defended her role at Komen and attacked Planned Parenthood (“The Daily Beast,” 9/05/12). Handel opposes embryonic stem cell research and same-sex marriage. She opposed giving a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She has stated that Congress’ role in dealing with the environment is “limited (Handel, on theissues.org, ajc.com, 4/10/17).”
In the runoff campaign for the special election race to replace GOP Cong. Price, Handel embraced Trump, welcomed him to campaign for her, and held a fundraiser with him. National GOPers poured millions of dollars into this race. As was previously stated, Handel, narrowly beat Dem. candidate Ossoff (politics.blog.ajc.com, bioguide.cong.gov). In her one House term, Handel voted with Donald 87.5% of the time, or nearly 90% with him (projects.fivethirtyeight.com). She supported Donald’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, was for repealing Obamacare, and for the 1% Trump tax cut. She supports building a wall on the U.S.- Mexican border (nytimes.com, 6/08/17, nytimes.com, 12/19/17, heavy.comnews, 4/18/17).
Should Handel win her primary against State Senator Brandon Beach, which she probably will, count on the GOP and similar “Red”-leaning groups like Koch to give oodles of money to her. In 2018, Koch gave Handel $15,000 (sourcewatch.org, rollcall.com, Pathe,3/25/19). In addition to already viciously using the race and gun cards against McBath, Handel has run ads trying to tie McBath to black female Dem. presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and leftist Democratic Congresswomen Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (thehill.com, Budryk, 3/25/19). Operatives for the NRCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, sent a package to a TN address it claimed to be the home of Cong. McBath. It was not, but was the home of her elderly mother-in-law. This was a stunt to claim that McBath didn’t live in her GA 6th district. When Dem. Ossoff did not live in his district, Handel successfully used that issue against him in her 4/2017 special election run off (See CNN, 4/18/17, rollcall.com, Kopp, 4/11/19). McBath expects more package sending stunts. She aptly called pulling her family into false partisan political attacks “exactly what people hate about Washington(rollcall.com).”
Inside Elections’ analyst Nathan Gonzales rates the 2020 general election in the GA 6th as “Tilts Democratic (Pathe, rollcall.com, 3/25/19).” However, McBath only beat Handel by just over 1% of the vote, and first-year Congressmembers running for second terms are often quite vulnerable. And, remember, McBath represents a GOP-leaning district that before her last had a Dem. Representative 30 years ago. Yes, this is an affluent and educated GA district upset with Trump and extremist anti-choice views. However, elections are won at the ballot booth, not by arm-chair theorists. For McBath to win and help keep House Democrats in the majority, GA 6th Democrats and moderates must vote in droves in 11/2020.