Rep. Lucy McBath had never held political office before. She was an activist and a grieving mother, but she’d never been a politician. However, as an anti-gunner with a personal story of loss to her credit, she defeated Karen Handel two years ago. It was something of an upset, one I personally didn’t see coming. After all, that district had been solidly red for some time. Handel had fended of John Ossoff, a Democrat with all the major backing one can care to think of, and appeared poised to hold that seat for a long time.
Spoiler: She didn’t.
However, Handel is challenging for the seat again. That makes sense. After all, Handel only lost by around 1,900 votes.
And despite the results two years ago, it’s one of the more hard-fought races in suburban Atlanta.
McBath became a prominent gun control activist after her son was killed at a Florida gas station by a man who complained he and his friends were playing their music too loudly in their car. She decided to run for Congress in 2018, after a shooter killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
McBath became the first Black House member to represent the district, where the majority of residents are white but Black, Hispanic and Asian residents all make up more than a tenth of the population.
In knocking off Handel, McBath gave Democrats the victory in the district that they had hoped for in a 2017 special election that drew national attention. The 2017 race pitted Handel against Democrat Jon Ossoff (now running for a U.S. Senate seat) in what became the most expensive House race in the country.
Handel is a well-known Republican official, who has served as Georgia secretary of state and ran unsuccessfully for governor and U.S. senator as well.
However, there’s something different this time.
See, as noted above, McBath ran for office in the wake of Parkland. At that point, anti-gun sentiment was extremely high and the anti-gun activist rode that wave.
To be fair, the district had been trending more purple as well, thus making it that much easier to unseat Handle.
Now, though, the landscape has changed a good bit. Millions of Americans have joined the ranks of gun owners. That includes a lot in suburban Atlanta. Many of those learned the constant lies of the anti-gun movement, how you can’t order a gun off the internet and have it shipped to you, how you can’t just walk in and buy a gun without a background check, all of it.
As a result, McBath’s history as an anti-gun zealot may not work in her favor this time around. In fact, quite the opposite.
Suburbs are full of people who tend to lean left until they feel threatened somehow, then they shift right, particularly on pertinent issues. COVID-19 and the riots have a lot of people making that shift.
I’m not saying definitively that McBath is going down in November, but I am saying this could be an interesting race to watch.