6th District Features McBath-Handel Rematch

6th District Features McBath-Handel Rematch

In “the very definition of a swing suburban district,” Democrats aim to keep a seat that had been in Republican hands for four decades.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The most competitive contest among Georgia’s 14 congressional districts may be in the 6th: a rematch of 2018, when then-challenger Democrat Lucy McBath unseated Republican Rep. Karen Handel.

The National Republican Congressional Committee calls the 6th “the very definition of a swing suburban district, with even party identification and generic ballot numbers.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution terms the district “ground zero for the battle over white, college-educated female voters in Georgia.”
Now-Rep. McBath won in 2028 with 50.5 percent of the vote to 49.5 percent for Handel. Polls this summer gave McBath a narrow lead, but the race is rated a toss-up.

The 6th District includes portions of eastern Cobb County, northern Fulton County and northern DeKalb County.

Karen Handel

Handel was elected to Congress in a 2017 special election, defeating Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff in the most expensive race in House history. She advanced to the 2020 general election after winning the June 9 Republican primary with nearly 75 percent of the vote.

As of their June 30 campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission, McBath had nearly $3.8 million cash on hand, while Handel had $1.2 million.

“This election, it really is the most consequential of my lifetime. It is going to set the direction of this country and our state for at least a decade to come,” Handel told an online September gathering sponsored by the local chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

McBath and Handel both have made health care a priority issue.

Handel has supported replacing the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” with a system that includes greater reliance on community health clinics. She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she would “again take the lead on legislation to protect those with pre-existing conditions from getting dropped or priced out of insurance” — a popular ACA provision — and would seek to “decouple insurance from employers and employees so individuals can take their plans with them wherever they go.”

In speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, Handel told the RJC chapter, “We do have to hold China accountable” and suggested that U.S. manufacturing firms in China bring their operations to the United States or move to India.
McBath, conversely, opposes efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and advocates for expansion of Medicaid in Georgia through funding available from the federal government.

Lucy McBath

Following House passage in June of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, McBath said, “This pandemic has shown us that every American needs access to quality, affordable health care. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, I live with a pre-existing condition every day, and there are 300,000 people in my district that live with them as well.”

Regarding her opponent, Handel told the RJC that McBath’s 2018 campaign “was literally bought and paid for by Michael Bloomberg,” a major proponent of gun control. Prior to her election, McBath had been a national spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety and worked for Delta Air Lines.

McBath became a gun control activist after her 17-year-old son was shot to death in November 2012 by a man angered at the volume of music coming from a car in which the teen was sitting at a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station.

Her first television ad in the 2020 campaign, released in August, was based on that experience. “I named Jordan after the river in the Bible. I never expected to be in Congress, but then my son was murdered. My tragedy turned to purpose.”
McBath’s major legislative achievement has been shepherding, through debate and bipartisan approval, a bill supporting disabled veterans (Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need Act of 2019), signed into law by President Donald Trump in August 2019.

She has served as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on the Judiciary. She also is a member of the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations. McBath took part in a display of solidarity with the Jewish community last month after swastikas were spray-painted onto fences in East Cobb.

During the 2019-20 session, McBath signed on as one of 292 co-sponsors of the United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, which passed the House and now is before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She also was among 259 co-sponsors of a bipartisan House resolution supporting the announcement of Israel establishing diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Handel told the RJC call that Israel’s successful diplomatic overtures with the Arab nations would be “an encouragement to others in the future.” When asked about the expiration of the Iran arms embargo [set for Oct. 18], she said, “The arms embargo must be extended. Iran continues funding terrorist networks. It cannot be ignored. We cannot turn a blind eye to it.”

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