Georgia Redistricting Pits Gun Control Activists Against Each Other

(Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia’s new congressional map is getting redder, and that’s giving the gun control lobby the blues. Right now the state’s congressional delegation is split 8-6 in favor of Republicans, but the redistricting process is expected to add another seat for the GOP thanks to the new boundaries of the state’s 6th and 7th congressional districts. At the moment those districts are represented by Democrats Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux, respectively, but the new boundaries of the 6th District are going to be much more Republican-friendly, which forced McBath to make a tough decision; run in her current district and likely lose her re-election bid, or run in the new 7th District, which is tilted heavily towards Democrats.

Well, McBath has made her choice, and she’s decided on the safer route.

McBath told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she’ll run in the 7th Congressional District, swing territory now held by Bourdeaux that Georgia’s Republican-controlled Legislature refashioned into a safe Democratic seat based in Gwinnett County.

“I refuse to let (Gov.) Brian Kemp, the (National Rifle Association) and the Republican Party keep me from fighting,” McBath said. “They are not going to have the last word.”

Bourdeaux narrowly captured the seat last year but has alienated some liberals with her centrist stances. Bourdeaux said Monday that she intends to run in the 7th District.

“It’s my hard-fought honor to serve the people of Gwinnett and GA’s 7th District,” Bourdeaux said in a statement, “and I look forward to continuing to do so.”

Bourdeaux is generally described as a more moderate Democrat than McBath, but both of the congresswomen are ardent opponents of the right to keep and bear arms who were endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety last year. However, Bourdeaux doesn’t have nearly as much clout within the gun control lobby as McBath, who was a gun control activist and spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action before she was elected to Congress in 2018.

McBath not only has more name recognition than the first-term Bourdeaux, but she’s guaranteed to get the help of her fellow anti-gun activists in the primary, even if Everytown doesn’t issue an official endorsement. Will that translate into an automatic primary victory? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution doesn’t think so.

Switching districts, though, doesn’t guarantee McBath a victory. Democratic state Rep. Donna McLeod of Lawrenceville immediately entered the race, too. And Gwinnett County school board member Everton Blair is considering a run. Bourdeaux, though, is the best-known rival to McBath.

Bourdeaux moved to Suwanee shortly before she announced her challenge against U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, who narrowly defeated her in 2018 and then decided to retire. She captured the vacant seat two years later, becoming the only Democrat in the nation to flip a GOP-held U.S. House district.

While McBath has a higher profile, Bourdeaux honed a reputation in Washington as a numbers geek who leans on her background as a public policy professor and former state Senate budget director. She often talks of donning her “green eyeshades” to scrutinize how spending plans will be financed.

While McBath may not be a lock to win, I’d say she starts out as the prohibitive favorite in the race for the 7th District. No matter who ultimately wins the Democratic primary, the end result is almost certainly going to be a net loss of one gun control supporter in Georgia’s congressional delegation, and that’s a win for fans of the Second Amendment.

Nov 29, 2021 4:30 PM ET