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Local News

Drawn into friendly political fire, new Georgia redistricting maps prompt lawmaker reshuffling

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by Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder
January 3, 2024

When a federal judge gave the final OK to newly-drawn electoral maps last month, it spelled curtains for the political careers of at least four state reps who had been drawn into the same district as a member of their own party.

Two Democratic state representatives have agreed not to run against their colleagues, while a pair of Democrats and a pair of Republicans say they’ll let the voters decide in this spring’s primaries.

On Tuesday, Smyrna Democratic state Rep. Doug Stoner announced he will step down at the end of the year rather than face fellow Smyrna Democratic Rep. Teri Anulewicz.

The two have served together in local and state government.

“I have known Rep. Anulewicz for over 20 years as we have served together in the legislature and on the Smyrna City Council,” Stoner said in a statement. “She will serve my former constituents in the new House District 42 well. I look forward to finding other opportunities to serve my community.”

Stoner also served in the state Senate and was a candidate for the Georgia Public Service Commission in 2018.

In a statement, Anulewicz praised Stoner’s knowledge and policy understanding.

“I have no doubt that Rep. Stoner will continue to serve Georgia in the future, and I wholeheartedly support him,” she said.

Over in Gwinnett, Democratic Rep. Gregg Kennard has signaled he will not run against Democratic Rep. Sam Park, whose districts were combined in the new maps.

Park was the first Asian-American Democrat and the first openly gay man elected to the Georgia Legislature. He is the Democratic whip in the House and is considered a rising star in the party.

“Gregg is a good and honorable man and a friend,” he said. “I’m humbled and honored by his decision not to run against me. I look forward to doing my best to continue to serve the people of Gwinnett County and to build a better Georgia.”

But not all paired-up lawmakers are stepping aside so easily. Atlanta Democratic Reps. Becky Evans and Saira Draper both said they are not done trying to represent parts of Atlanta and DeKalb County.

“It was never a question,” Draper said in a tweet on X Tuesday. “The bulk of #HD90 hasn’t changed. Voters elected me because they saw the value of a voting rights expert in the legislature- and the work isn’t done. Protecting democracy has never been more critical.”

Draper assumed office last year. She is an attorney and voting rights advocate who has worked for the campaigns of President Joe Biden and Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Evans took office in 2019. Before that she worked as an educator for a health care technology company and has a long history of volunteering for Democratic candidates.

“After a lot of thought and conversations with my husband, my family, my faith community and community leaders I know and admire, I know that my job here is not yet done,” Evans said in a Dec. 19 video announcement.

On the Republican side, Reps. Beth Camp and David Knight, the only GOP lawmakers to have been paired, have been resigned to a primary battle since before the proposed House map was passed, releasing a joint statement Nov. 28.

“I have the utmost respect for Rep.Knight and appreciate our working relationship,” said Rep. Camp. “This is an unfortunate situation, but I have faith that the best interests of all citizens of Lamar, Pike and Spalding will be served. It is my honor to represent my constituents.”

“I am saddened by the outcome of the new map which places me, along with my friend and trusted colleague Rep. Beth Camp, together in the new District 135,” said Rep. Knight. “No matter the future outcome of elections, I know the constituents of Spalding, Pike, and Lamar will be well represented.”

Knight was first elected in 2004 and serves as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. Camp was elected in 2020 and serves as chairman of the Intragovernmental Coordination Committee.

In Georgia’s Congressional delegation, Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath, currently of the 7th District, announced plans to run in the 6th District after the new maps make the 7th less friendly to a Democrat.

“I refuse to allow an extremist few decide when my work in Congress is complete,” she said in a statement.

McBath may be getting used to running in new districts by now.

She was first elected to represent the 6th District from her Marietta home in the northern Atlanta suburbs in 2020, flipping what was previously a Republican stronghold.

In 2022, GOP state lawmakers drew the 6th District to favor a Republican, and McBath switched to the 7th District concentrated in Gwinnett, where she defeated fellow Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux and went on to win re-election there.

Current 6th District Congressman Rich McCormick, a Republican, announced he plans to run in the new 7th District.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.