A rematch is in the works between two young rising political stars vying to represent a swing DeKalb district in the Georgia House.
Democrat Taylor Bennett, a former Georgia Tech quarterback, narrowly won a conservative-leaning Brookhaven-based district in a 2015 special election. But he was ousted in November by Republican Meagan Hanson, an attorney seen as a potential statewide candidate down the road.
Bennett has been rumbling about making a comeback bid since his razor-thin loss, but now it seems like a done deal.
His former chief of staff, Hayden Brooks, said Bennett is exploring another run because he’s disappointed “to see how poorly the district’s principles and interests have been represented.”
And House Minority Whip Carolyn Hugley said Bennett is “strongly considering” a campaign for the seat.
“When Bennett was in office, he put the needs of his district above politics and never shied away from tough votes,” said Hugley. “The people in House District 80 would welcome the return of that kind of leadership.”
That was an implicit dig on Hanson for ducking a vote on a controversial measure to deny state funding to any school that has declared itself a “sanctuary campus.” Democrats are also frustrated with her initial support of a contentious measure that would overhaul how campuses investigate sexual assault claims; she did not vote on a second measure Tuesday that would have revived those changes.
In a statement, Hanson did not reference those votes but said she looks forward to "vigorous debate" with Bennett.
"This time, though, we will both have legislative records to compare," she said. "Voters were displeased with his lack of effort on their behalf the first time."
She noted her opposition to the campus carry measure and her support for a Senate bill that would provide more flexible sick leave for families, along with local legislation aimed at boosting funding for transportation and tax relief.
"I've been doing the job voters elected me to do from day one," she said, "and I have the record that reflects that."
The district, a conservative-leaning area in DeKalb County along I-85, was once considered a gimme putt for Republicans and went 56 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012.
But Bennett’s upset victory against former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis in a 2015 special election made it a top target for Georgia conservatives. And Hanson’s November election cemented its status as a swing district.