A Chance to Paint a Congressional Seat “Blue” in Swingy Georgia—Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux v. GOPer Dr. Rich “Hydroxychloroquine” McCormick August 5, 2020
Georgia—the Peach State, the last of the Thirteen Colonies founded in 1732, but a state that looms large in our history and politics. GA--home to the landmark Atlanta Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. GA—home of a major civil rights disciple of Dr. King, Atlanta Democratic Congressman John Lewis. Lewis, bloodied in 1965 at Selma AL’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, was laid to rest in Atlanta after his 7/30/2020 Ebenezer Baptist funeral. Cong. Lewis was emotionally eulogized by Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama for his heroic lifelong civil rights battles, what Lewis called the “good trouble.” GA, however, like much of the South, remains racially polarized, even though it voted for native son Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980. Whites, 53.6% of the population, are in the GOP column while the 30.9% black minority are part of the Democratic camp (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac). “Team Red” has carried the Peach State in every presidential election since 1984, except when Bill Clinton took GA in 1992. With its growing black and Latino population, some analysts believed Hillary could win GA in 2016. However, Donald won GA by a 5% margin. Hillary still was the first Democrat since Carter in 1976 to carry the two largest suburban counties Gwinnett and Cobb in the Atlanta area. Cobb was formerly the base of GOP firebrand House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Demagogue Donald’s brash/nasty style turned off some GOP establishment voters in this area. Clinton slashed the GOP margin in eight suburban counties surrounding Atlanta that include Gwinnett and Forsyth from 18 points in 2012 to 6 in 2016. However, this 6-point margin combined with the strong GOP showing in the rest of the state gave Trump a GA electoral win. (Cohen & Cook, 2020).
GA continues to increase its racial and ethnic diversity and will be contested by Biden in 2020. In addition to the presidential contest, the two GA U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs. There are two “hot” House races in the Atlanta metro area on the 2020 ballot, the GA 6th where first-term Democratic Cong. Lucy McBath is running for re-election and the GA 7th. The GA 7th now constitutes an open seat because 5th term GOP Cong. Rob Woodall is not running in 2020. In the Peach State 7th Congressional District (CD), Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux is running against Republican Dr. Rich McCormick. Let’s focus on this race which “Team Blue” hopes to put into its column, adding to its House majority.
The newly redrawn GA 7th CD includes about 70% of Gwinnett County and 70% of Forsyth County, suburbs northeast of Atlanta. The outer suburbs northeast of Atlanta, including Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties, have grown and changed the fastest in the past two decades. The GA 7th includes the cities of Peachtree Corners, Norcross, and Cumming. The cities of Duluth, Suwanee, and Buford, also lie in the 7th (legis.ga.gov/Joint/reapportionment, 2012, Cohen & Cook 2020). The 7th’s Gwinnett County is composed of mature neighborhoods of affluent professionals and entrepreneurs along with communities that have been attracting GA’s largest concentration of Hispanics along with middle class blacks. Over 100 languages are spoken by the students in Gwinnett County’s rapidly growing school system. Overall, Gwinnett County is 28% African American, 21% Hispanic, and 12% Asian. Forsyth County, north of Gwinnett County, is the fastest growing and wealthiest county in GA. In that once-rural area where blacks were terrorized and forced out in 1912, suburban housing and business development have been booming. The entire GA 7th is 45.8% white, 19% black, 19.3% Latino, and 13.1% Asian (Cohen & Cook 2020).
As the demographics changed in Gwinnett County, so did its politics. The first Democrats and racial minorities were elected to its county commission in 2018. While Romney beat Obama in Gwinnett County in 2012, by 9 percentage points, Hillary defeated Trump by a 6-point margin, the first time that Gwinnett County voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976. Forsyth County voted for Romney in 2012 by a 63% margin, but went for Donald by 47 points. In 2016, the 7th’s overall GOP vote fell to a 7% margin from its 22% 2012 level. The most recent Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) for the 7th stands at an R+9 (Cohen & Cook). GOP Congressman Rob Woodall, who previously won all his elections by taking 60%-67% of the vote, won his 5th re-election in 11/2018 by just 433 votes or a nail-biting .15% against Carolyn Bourdeaux. In 2018, the 7th was the closest U.S. House race in the country. Woodall won the 7th’s Forsyth County taking 68% of its vote, but Bourdeaux won 55% of the votes in Gwinnett County which cast more than three-fourths of the vote (Cohen & Cook 2020, rollcall.com, Pathe, S. 11/21/18, GA’s 7th Cong. District, 2018). After this near defeat, Woodall decided to retire while Bourdeaux declared she would run again (Cohen & Cook 2020).
Roanoke, VA native Caroly Bourdeaux’s parents were teachers, but while she was in school, her family declared bankruptcy. Bourdeaux received her Bachelor’s degree from Yale University with the help of federal Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. Bourdeaux earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Southern California (USC) and her Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) from Syracuse University (politics.myajc.com). For four years, Bourdeaux worked as a political aide to Oregon’s Dem. Ron Wyden when he served in the U.S. House and then became a U.S. Senator. In 2003, she began teaching at Georgia State University. From 2007-2010, Bourdeaux took a leave of absence from GA State to become Director of GA’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office. In that post, Bourdeaux worked in a non-partisan role to help GA balance its budget during the Great Recession (See politics.myajc.com, legis.ga.gov). After serving the state, Bourdeaux returned to Georgia State Andrew Young’s School of Public Policy where she founded the Center for State and Local Finance. In 2018 when Bourdeaux first ran against incumbent Rep. GOP Rob Woodall, she stated that her “commitment to public service drives her run for Congress (politics.myajc.com).” Boudreaux called Donald “corrupt” and the health care system “badly broken (Cohen & Cook 2020).” In that contest, initially considered a “sleeper,” Bourdeaux outraised Woodall by more than 3:1 in the third quarter of 2018, taking in over $1 million. The race was close all the way through Election Day. On Election Night, the result remained too close to call. On 11/15/2018, a Federal District Judge denied a motion to count previously rejected absentee ballots in this razor-thin race. On 11/21/2018, after a recount, Bourdeaux conceded (ajc.com, Hallerman, 10/16/18, Hallerman & Estep, 11/15/18, ajc.com/blog/politics, thehill.com, 11/21/18, Thomsen). After announcing her plan to run again for the 7th CD seat in 2020, Bourdeaux stated, “I got in this race for you and to #finish the job. And I won’t back down. In this crisis (COVID-19) that’s more important than ever. I won’t give up (See Facebook Carolyn Bourdeaux for Congress).” Bourdeaux was endorsed in 2018 by the late Cong. John Lewis. She was endorsed by Barack Obama and dozens of local elected officials and leaders as well as the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, and pro-choice Emily’s List. Count on them to be in her corner again.
And here’s Bourdeaux’s opponent, GOPer Rich McCormick. McCormick graduated from Morehouse School of Medicine and did his residency in emergency medicine at Emory University. He earned an MBA at National University. McCormick served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a pilot and in the Navy as the department head for the emergency medicine department in Afghanistan. He is currently an emergency medicine physician (ballotpedia.org). McCormick says we need a “fighter” with experience to match the challenges our nation will face. McCormick’s website states that his “unique experience in health care and government spending make him the ideal candidate to find solutions for patient care and defend against the ‘socialist’ agenda which would rob patients of access to and quality of services (ballotpedia.org).” Translation: McCormick is one strong foe of Obamacare and would like to repeal it. In a campaign ad, McCormick stated that in Congress, he would “oppose the fantasies of the left and stand up to the “squad (ballotpedia.org).” Translation: McCormick is out to tar all Democrats as “radical socialist leftists,” and is claiming that NY Cong. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and her small group represent all Democrats. Message to McCormick—they do not.
McCormick was a big fan of the late GOP presidential candidate, radical economic extremist Herman “999” Cain. African American Cain, who recently died of COVID-19 after attending Trump’s Tulsa, OK rally without wearing a mask, was the first politician McCormick tweeted that “he ever donated to.” McCain, a Morehouse College undergraduate alumnus, (an Historically Black College where Martin Luther King Jr. also went) “inspired” McCormick. McCormick, who is white, proudly went to Morehouse Medical School where 74.4% of its students are black and just 6.92% are white (datausa.io.profile, @RichforGA-7/30/20).” McCormick proudly tweeted that Cain “was a Morehouse Man, a successful businessman, and a conservative.” McCormick wanted Cain “to be our President (@RichforGA-7/30).” Demagogue Donald was a big fan of McCormick in his primary and wholeheartedly endorsed him after his win (@realDonaldTrump—6/10/20, Jaffe, dcc.org, 6/10/20).
McCormick is one wacky MAGA fan. He believes in the “Obamagate” conspiracy theory Trump peddles (twitter.com/RichforGA). And for an MD, supposedly trained in science, how crazy can McCormick get? Apparently, off-the-charts crazy. He repeatedly praised Donald and GA Gov. Kemp’s unprepared responses to the coronavirus crisis. Only 39% of Georgians approve of the job Gov. Kemp is doing (cnn.com, Cillizza, 5/13/20, ajc.com/news/state). And get this, McCormick peddled, as does Trump, taking hydroxychloroquine to stop COVID-19, which scientists have completely rejected (twitter.com/Rich for GA, Jaffe, dccc.org). McCormick even ridiculously stated on 2/27/20 that “nobody in the United States has died of coronavirus, we have zero cases in GA.” Like Trump, McCormick downplayed calls to prepare for this pandemic which has now killed over 156,000 Americans and compared it to the flu (dccc.org, twitter.com/RichforGA). In addition to often praising Donald on social media, McCormick has written numerous social media comments that praise far-out GOP Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the House GOP’s wacko Freedom Caucus (twitter .com/RichforGA, dccc.org). McCormick is anti-choice and for doubling down on more top 1% tax cuts (dccc.org). We know exactly how McCormick would vote in Congress—far from anyone’s mainstream.
Trumpbot-extremist McCormick certainly does not fit the swingy GA -7th with its “Blue-trending” and growing racially/ethnically diverse voters. In her narrow defeat in the GA gubernatorial 2018 race to Brian Kemp, African American Democrat Stacey Abrams won the 7th CD outright (dccc.org). Yes, Bourdeaux can win this race against McCormick, but it will be no “cakewalk,” in an R+ 9 Cook PVI district. She will have to get a “y uu ge” turnout of Democratic voters in Gwinnett County and do better in Forsyth County. The close presidential and Senate races will probably help “Blue” turnout in GA via mail-in votes and at the polls, but in this coronavirus time, nothing remains certain. Donald will be on the ballot and his MAGA fanatics will enthusiastically turn out. The 7th is no longer considered a “sleeper” race by Democrats. It is one of the 33 offensive “Battlefield Districts” on the Democratic Congressional Committee’s (DCCC) list. In addition to turnout, however, Democrats will have to pour much financial aid into Bourdeaux’s coffers. They must counteract national Republican money and contributions from GOP-leaning groups like the Club for Growth and the House Freedom Fund which are McCormick supporters. Other GOP outfits like Koch Industries may also get involved. To keep McCormick from going to Congress, Bourdeaux will have to brand McCormick 24/7 and then some as totally unfit for the GA 7th.