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Georgia Democratic Race to Take On Karen Handel Moves to Runoff

Lucy McBath, Kevin Abel are top two finishers, 7th District contest also heads for runoff

Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga., will have to wait till July to find out who will be her Democratic opponent this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga., will have to wait till July to find out who will be her Democratic opponent this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Democrats in Georgia’s 6th District will advance to a July runoff for the right to take on Republican Rep. Karen Handel in November. 

Since no candidate earned more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the suburban Atlanta district, the top-two finishers — activist Lucy McBath and businessman Kevin Abel — will face each other on July 24. 

With 89 percent of precincts reporting, McBath had 37 percent of the vote to 30 percent for Abel, according to The Associated Press. 

Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, won the most expensive House race in history last year, defeating big-spending Democrat Jon Ossoff (with help from GOP outside groups) in the special election for the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Tom Price. She’s now running for her first full term. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican

Ossoff decided against running this year. 

McBath, the only African-American and only woman in the primary, was a late entrant to the race and lagged in fundraising, ending the pre-primary reporting period with just $69,000. But she had outside support from Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, which made direct mail and cable independent expenditures supporting her.

She had been running for state House but switched to the congressional race after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. McBath’s son was shot and killed at a gas station in Florida in 2012 by a man who complained his music was too loud. She’s the national spokesperson for advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety but is currently on an unpaid leave of absence.

She also has the backing of EMILY’s List, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Giffords PAC, the organization formed by former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Abel touted himself as an immigrant businessman in videos in which he directly addressed President Donald Trump. He loaned his campaign $150,000 and ended the pre-primary reporting period with $111,000. 

In third place was former local TV anchor Bobby Kaple, who had picked up support from some prominent national and local politicians. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer had donated to his campaign, as has the moderate Blue Dog PAC. He was also backed by Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus; former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland; former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes; and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, who also represented the Peach State in the House.

Kaple poured $200,000 of his own money into his campaign, as of his May 2 pre-primary report with the Federal Election Commission. He ended the period with $290,000 in the bank.

Handel has $795,000 in the bank and the luxury of a lower-profile contest compared to last year’s special election. The 6th District isn’t getting anywhere near the same level of attention it did in 2017 since Democrats have dozens of other races on their radar.

But as an affluent suburban district that Trump carried by less than 2 points in 2016, the 6th is still a Democratic target. 

7th District 

Democrats are also targeting four-term GOP Rep. Rob Woodall in the 7th District, which some strategists see as the more likely pickup opportunity in Georgia.

Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux and David Kim, the founder of a tutoring business, have advanced to the July 24 Democratic runoff after besting a six-candidate field Tuesday. 

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Bourdeaux led Kim, 27 percent to 26 percent, according to the AP. 

Bourdeaux, the former director of Georgia’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office, ended the pre-primary reporting period with $134,000. She has the backing of EMILY’s List and End Citizens United. She also been endorsed by Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, Cleland and Young. She’s also received a support from the leadership PAC of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, whom she once worked for. 

Kim ended the pre-primary reporting period with $70,000, but has since made at least $140,000 in personal contribution to his campaign. 

Bourdeaux hit Kim in a recent debate for not voting in the 2016 election. 

Woodall has $483,000 in the bank as of the pre-primary reporting period. Trump carried the 7th District by 6 points in 2016, while Woodall was winning a fourth term by 21 points. Inside Elections recently changed the race rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican

Watch: Which House Races Are the Parties Targeting? Look to the Money, the TV Ad Money

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