A former Democratic state legislator joined the crowded race to replace U.S. Tom Price, hoping to clear the field of other Democratic candidates in the uphill battle to win the conservative district.
Sally Harrell, who represented a DeKalb district from 1999-2005, said Thursday she's entering the race to succeed Price, who was tapped as Donald Trump's health secretary. The wide-open special election hasn't been set yet, but it's likely to be held early next year.
"During these politically uncertain times, we need a Congresswoman in Washington who understands the impact of government on people’s everyday lives," said Harrell, who positioned herself as an advocate for mandatory school recess and expanded access to mental health services in office.
"Our families need access to affordable healthcare, quality public education, and clean air and water -- all supported by a living wage. It’s time that our government works for the people.”
With several Republicans eyeing a run for the district, solidly-Republican turf that stretches from east Cobb to Brookhaven, Democrats hope to consolidate behind a single candidate in hopes of landing a spot in the runoff. But two other Democrats are already in the contest: Former state Sen. Ron Slotin, who vows to bring "progressive" ideals to the contest, and Josh McLaurin, an attorney and political newcomer.
The Republican side of the ledger is more crowded. State Sen. Judson Hill, a Cobb County attorney, is the only announced GOP candidate. But about a half-dozen other Republicans are scouting a run. They include former Secretary of State Karen Handel, ex-state Sen. Dan Moody, state Sen. Brandon Beach, state Rep. Chuck Martin and Price's wife, state Rep. Betty Price. A handful of Republicans who would run as "outsiders" are also considering bids - namely immigration attorney Charles Kuck and former Johns Creek councilwoman Kelly Stewart.
Two other GOP heavy-hitters - House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and state Sen. John Albers - recently pulled themselves out of contention.
With such a jumbled field, some Democrats hope they have an outside shot at a district that's been a launching pad for a string of big-name Georgia Republicans: Newt Gingrich, then Johnny Isakson and now Price. Hillary Clinton performed surprisingly well in the territory - she lost there to Donald Trump by one percentage point - though Price easily coasted to another term with more than 60 percent of the vote.
She has the support of Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb, a DeKalb attorney who passed on the race earlier this month.
"I've known Sally a long time and she's terrific," he said. "She's smart, reasonable and thoughtful. We need more of that in Congress."
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