The Slatest

Gun Control Activist Lucy McBath Ends GOP Dominance of House Seat in Georgia

Lucy McBath seated onstage, holding a mic.
Lucy McBath at the premiere of the documentary Under the Gun on May 12, 2016, in New York City.
Monica Schipper/Getty Images

More than a year after Republicans held on to a seat in the Atlanta suburbs in what was then the most expensive House race, it has gone to the Democrats. Lucy McBath has just defeated Karen Handel in the 6th District of Georgia by less than 3,000 votes.

McBath, a black woman who had never before held elected office, became active in politics after her son Jordan Davis was murdered in 2012, when a white man shot him because he was playing loud music. She had previously worked as a flight attendant for 30 years for Delta Airlines. McBath campaigned on a number of gun control ideas, including placing the minimum age to purchase a gun at 21 and federal laws to prevent domestic abusers from possessing guns.

The district had been held by Republicans for decades, including by disgraced former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and zoo enthusiast Newt Gingrich. The race was seen as a toss-up, with FiveThirtyEight giving a very slight edge to Handel despite McBath’s strong standing in polls done in the weeks before the election. In the neighboring 7th District, Republican incumbent Rob Woodall is up by 890 votes on Carolyn Bourdeaux in a race that’s still too close to call.

Handel had defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in a June 2017 special election in which outside groups poured more than $50 million and Ossoff raised almost $25 million. Handel won by nearly 4 percentage points, a margin of more than 9,000 votes.