Redistricting: New seats, intriguing matchups and former politicians return to the fray

Incumbent Reps. Saira Draper and Becky Evans will compete in the same district in this year's primary election. (Credit: Georgia House)

A federal court-approved redistricting process last year gave Georgia new congressional and state district electoral maps that created one new majority Black seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, five new majority-Black districts in the state House, and two in the state Senate. 

Because of the way the districts were configured, political observers anticipate that Georgia Republicans will preserve their 9-5 majority in the U.S. House, while Democrats will see a net gain of only two seats in the state House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 102-78. Analysts predict no change in the state Senate, where Republicans enjoy a modest 33-23 majority. 

Georgia’s redistricting effort has created a musical chairs of sorts for this year’s elections, prompting  some state lawmakers to seek congressional seats while luring former politicians back into the political fray.

In what promises to be one of the more interesting races, state Reps. Saira Draper and Becky Evans are now, due to redistricting, running against each other in the same Atlanta district.

Rep. Teri Anulewicz (Credit: Georgia House)

Minority Whip Rep. Sam Park of Lawrenceville and Rep. Teri Anulewicz of Smyrna were also put into newly drawn districts with Democratic incumbents Rep. Gregg Kennard and Rep. Doug Stoner. Kennard and Stoner said last month that they had decided out of deference not to run against their Democratic colleagues, and retired. 

House Minority Whip Sam Park (Credit: Georgia House)

Park will face Republican challenger Hai Thai Cao, an engineer, in November, while Anulewicz is now facing Democrat Gabriel Sanchez, a Smyrna waiter and community organizer, in the primary.
Incumbent Republican state Reps. Beth Camp of Concord and David Knight of Griffin were also paired in the new District 135, but Knight announced last Friday his decision to retire. Camp is now running unopposed.

Former veteran legislator Nadine Thomas is challenging incumbent Sen. Elena Parent for the newly formed Senate District 44. The new district was created out of what was District 42 during last year’s redistricting session. Thomas served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1991 to 1993 and became the first Black female to serve in the state Senate from 1993 to 2005.

Political analyst Niles Francis said the changes in District 44 and its predecessor, District 42, demonstrate the Republican redistricting strategy. “Republicans, what they essentially did, is preserve their majorities by eliminating majority white districts that are held by Democrats, and increase the Black population in several districts that are already majority Black.” Parent’s Atlanta district was majority white prior to redistricting, he noted, but Republicans increased the Black population in her district by shifting it into Clayton County.

In Congress

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath is running for the newly formed 6th District — her original congressional seat — which now encompasses Fulton, Douglas, Fayette and Cobb counties. She faces two challengers: Mel Keyton, an engineer tech in DeKalb County  government, and State Rep. Mandisha Thomas, D-South Fulton.  

With U.S. Rep Drew Ferguson’s retirement, the 3rd Congressional District in west Georgia is the only open seat in the state’s 14-member congressional delegation. Six Republicans and two Democrats are now vying for it. Republican challengers include former state Sens. Mike Crane of Franklin and Mike Dugan of Carrollton, former state Rep. Philip Singleton of Sharpsburg, and former police officer and purchasing manager Jim Bennett of Bowdon. Democrats vying for the seat are Maura Keller, a nuclear medicine technologist from Fayetteville, and Val Almonord, a retired physician from Muscogee County. 

“Six of the cities that are in the new District 6 are already in my House district,” Thomas told State Affairs. “The people already know me. They voted for me once, twice, three, four times. There's no need for them to deviate from that. They appreciate what I offer and how I engage with them. And they like my policies and so there's no break in service. We're just asking them to extend my state contract to Washington, D.C.”

Senior investigative reporter Tammy Joyner contributed to this report.

Here’s our list of candidates who’ve  qualified for the General Assembly and Congressional races.

Have questions? Contact Jill Jordan Sieder on X @journalistajillor at [email protected]

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