clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Democratic women swept key House primary runoffs in Georgia

They kept up the winning streak this week.

Lucy McBath won her primary runoff for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District on Tuesday.
Mark Makela/Getty Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

Democratic women candidates had another triumphant night on Tuesday, sweeping the primary runoffs in two Georgia House districts.

Their victories this week further solidify a trend that’s been observed in the 2018 midterm cycle: When Democratic women run, they’ve consistently outperformed men in races across the country.

Tuesday night, gun control activist Lucy McBath defeated entrepreneur Kevin Abel in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, while college professor Carolyn Bourdeaux eked out a victory against tutoring business founder David Kim in the state’s Seventh. Both are first-time candidates.

The two will go up against GOP incumbents this fall as Democrats aim to create a so-called blue wave and retake the House. Women candidates — who are running in record numbers for the House and Senate this year — have played a crucial role in the party’s effort, as they’ve dominated primary after primary so far. First-time candidates — many fueled by a desire to push back against the Trump administration — have activated an outpouring of voter energy they hope to translate to more victories in November.

Lucy McBath is focusing on gun control in a race against the woman who beat Jon Ossoff

McBath’s district, which covers a suburban area near Atlanta, is one that Democrats have unsuccessfully sought to flip before. Hot off the heels of Donald Trump’s election, donors and groups sank millions of dollars to boost Jon Ossoff in a special election that turned into a big, expensive failure. McBath — who decided to run after her son was shot and killed — has emphasized her focus on gun control.

In addition to determining whether Democrats still have a chance in this district, her candidacy could also serve as a litmus test for whether gun control is a compelling enough issue to sway a wealthy suburban electorate, CNN notes. Georgia’s Sixth is still rated as Lean Republican by the Cook Political Report, though Trump only narrowly took it in 2016.

McBath will face Rep. Karen Handel, the candidate who beat Ossoff by less than 4 percentage points, this fall. A rise in women candidates has led to more races like this one, in which the nominees for both parties are women — a dynamic that’s still not very common.

Bourdeaux will have an uphill battle in the Seventh District

The state’s Seventh Congressional District, which is also adjacent to the Atlanta metro area, is seen as an even tougher get for Democrats. Cook has classified the district — which Trump won by just 6 percentage points in 2016 — as Likely Republican. The House seat has long been held by a conservative as well, although changing demographics in the area could give Democrats a boost.

Bourdeaux, the runoff winner, is a public policy professor at Georgia State and has emphasized Medicaid expansion as part of her campaign. She will go up against four-term Rep. Rob Woodall in the general election and has vowed to use his vote to repeal the ACA against him.

Bolstered by their strong performance in the 2018 primaries, Democratic women could contribute to a surprising shift in the House come November if they keep on winning. According to recent data compiled by the lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, Democratic women could soon outnumber the party’s white men in the House.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.