When Liz Murphy and her family moved to metro Atlanta from Houston five years ago, they picked Cobb County because of its high-performing schools. As an outspoken Democrat, she remembers wearing Hillary Clinton buttons when dropping off her kids in 2016.
“It was almost like a whisper campaign. People would come up to me and say, ‘You know, I’m not voting for him’,” she said.
Donald Trump won the 6th District, which includes much of Cobb County, by one point that year. Murphy says a lot of Democrats in the Atlanta suburb just didn’t talk about their political views, because the 6th District, once represented by Tom Price and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, was one of the most conservative in Georgia. But not anymore, Murphy said.
“Some of the people that started out as the whisper campaign, now have signs in their front yard, they’re the phone bankers. It’s an incredible change.”
That change gave Democrat Lucy McBath a 3,264-vote advantage over Karen Handel in 2018, and Handel now thinks she can make a comeback. McBath has raised more than $7 million to defend her seat, Handel raised just about $2.7 million.
During an Atlanta Press Club Debate, the two squared off on the issues of health care, the Supreme Court and abortion.
Handel made it clear that she opposes abortion and that gets her support from many voters in the district who still hold on to its conservative roots, such as Carol Craton from Kennesaw.
“I’m a Christian and, first thing is… I won’t say abortion at the first 12 weeks. I’m just saying this long-term abortion — and all this other stuff — has just has to quit,” Craton said.
There are strong conservative pockets in the 6th Congressional District, which is also the state’s wealthiest, according to Kennesaw State University Political Scientist Kerwin Swint.
“Karen Handel is fortunate that East Cobb county is in this district. It’s a high-turnout district, it’s a high-income district and it’s notoriously a Republican district,” he said.
But other areas of the 6th District, Swint said, like North Fulton and parts of DeKalb County, have gotten more diverse and Democratic over the past few years, so the 2020 rematch in this district comes down to voter turnout.