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Political Reporter’s Notebook: McBath Takes Heat in 7th District Primary Race

Plus, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens replaces city housing board members after public outcry.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-6th, speaks at a 2019 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. McBath is now running in the 7th District Democratic primary against incumbent U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

It’s been a rocky week in Georgia politics.

Black state lawmakers and women’s reproductive health practitioners were forced to grapple with the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade on Tuesday after a draft opinion on a related U.S. Supreme Court case was leaked Monday night.

The head of Gwinnett County’s NAACP chapter had harsh words on Thursday for U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath after the congresswoman representing Georgia’s 6th Congressional District reportedly skipped a “Meet The Candidate” event.

And Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens replaced most of the city’s Housing Authority board following public complaints about the rising cost of real estate.

Here’s a rundown of the news you need to know heading into the weekend.

McBath labeled a Gwinnett County outsider by primary opponents and local NAACP leader

Front-runner McBath took additional heat this week from her two Democratic primary opponents and a prominent local Black civil rights leader who all criticized the congresswoman for not living in the district where she’s running for office.

McBath represents Georgia’s 6th District, which includes Marietta, where she lives. Late last year, GOP lawmakers in the Georgia General Assembly redrew the district’s boundaries to favor Republican candidates.

In response, McBath chose to run for reelection in the Democratic-leaning 7th District against incumbent U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, the only white candidate in the race in what is now regarded as a majority minority district.

During their Democratic primary debate on May 1, Bourdeaux and state Rep. Donna McLeod of Lawrenceville took turns characterizing McBath as a Gwinnett outsider who abandoned her own district and left it to the GOP.

A McBath campaign spokesperson noted that Bordeaux also reportedly lives outside the 7th district.

“What you are doing by leaving your seat and coming over into the 7th is handing the Republicans a seat, handing the NRA a seat, and allowing [U.S. House Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.] to be one step closer to becoming speaker,” Bordeaux told McBath. “Everything that we have been fighting for, you are undermining by leaving and coming and fighting me here.”

McBath has been polling ahead of her opponents in their primary race. She fired back against the outsider label after McLeod accused her of playing “musical chairs” by switching districts.

“I have done the work. I have been in our community, meeting people where they are, whether it’s their schools or their businesses,” McBath said. “People know they can depend on me because I have delivered for them.”

Gwinnett NAACP President Penny Poole amplified Bourdeaux and McLeod’s criticism of McBath after she said McBath abruptly dropped out of a “Meet The Candidate” event at the last minute on Monday.

Poole said Bourdeaux and McLeod attended the virtual event, which was co-hosted by the Galeo Impact Fund, a local Latino advocacy group.

“There’s a consensus in this community that [McBath] does not know the 7th [district],” said Poole, who is Black. “With this last thing she did on Monday, it’s almost that she is attempting not to know the 7th. … We’re tired of giving our votes to people who look like us and won’t represent us.”

McBath’s campaign staff declined to comment on Poole’s criticism. The Democratic primary election takes place May 24.

Black Georgia lawmakers reckon with potential Roe v. Wade overturn

The bombshell Monday night leak of a potential Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has rocked Black lawmakers in Georgia.

State lawmakers expressed concern Tuesday that they may soon be forced to grapple with another bill limiting abortions in the state if Roe v. Wade is eventually overruled.

A federal appellate court blocked the state’s previously enacted “fetal heartbeat” law, which has been in legal limbo since 2020. Legal experts say the measure, which effectively bans abortions after six weeks, could be upheld if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

“I think it means Georgia would effectively ban abortions for everyone,” Democratic state Rep. James Beverly of Macon told Capital B. 

Read our full rundown. 

Dickens replaces Atlanta Housing Authority board members

Dickens on Monday announced the appointment of four new commissioners to the city housing board after accepting the resignation of some of its members.

The housing board governs affordable and subsidized housing in Atlanta. Members of the public have criticized the board this year for not doing more to address the rising cost of housing in the city.

The mayor’s office confirmed board chair Christopher R. Edwards and Vice Chair Kirk Rich resigned, along with fellow members Pat D. Dixon Jr. and Robert Highsmith Jr.

​​“With housing prices on the rise and inflation cutting deeply into paychecks, there is no time to waste on our plan to build and preserve homes that our residents can afford,” Dickens said in a statement. “My appointments to the board share my vision and have wide-ranging expertise and leadership experience in both the public and private sectors to get the job done.”

This story has been updated.