NATIONAL NEWS

Georgia Democrat Mesha Mainor, at odds with her party, switches to Republicans

Jul 11, 2023, 2:42 PM

FILE - Georgia state Rep. Mesha Mainor, D-Atlanta, center, speaks in the House Chamber at the Georg...

FILE - Georgia state Rep. Mesha Mainor, D-Atlanta, center, speaks in the House Chamber at the Georgia Capitol, March 6, 2023, in Atlanta. Mainor announced on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 that she was switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, saying Democrats had driven her out for refusing to follow party orthodoxy. (AP Photo/Alex Slitz, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Alex Slitz, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia state legislator from Atlanta switched to the Republican Party on Tuesday, after being at odds with Democrats for reasons including her support for school vouchers and disciplining prosecutors.

Rep. Mesha Mainor becomes the only Black member of the GOP among Georgia’s 236 state lawmakers, and the first Black Republican woman to ever serve in the Georgia General Assembly. Mainor’s defection gives Republicans a 102-78 edge in the House.

Mainor said legislative Democrats drove her out of the party for breaking party orthodoxy, claiming at a Tuesday news conference outside the Georgia Capitol that they had “relentlessly tried to sabotage every single thing that I have done for District 56” and “publicly slandered me in every way imaginable.”

“I thought it was OK to not agree with those things as a Democrat. But they told me, ‘You know what, those are values we just don’t have,’” Mainor said, flanked by state Republican Party Chairman Josh McKoon.

But she had long been on the outs as part of a minority faction of Atlanta-area Democrats and for deeply personal reasons revolving around a stalking incident where Mainor felt her stalker got off too easy.

The tension between Mainor and other Democrats burst into the open earlier this year after Mainor became the only Democrat to posted a picture of a $1,000 check online for a primary challenger, writing “All I need is a name.”

Mainor, first elected in 2020, represents House District 56, an ultra-Democratic swath of Atlanta including its Midtown neighborhood and close-in parts of the city’s west side. She had said earlier that she wouldn’t switch parties. Tuesday, though, she urged other lifelong Democrats to reexamine the party’s values.

“I am encouraging more Black Americans and Black Democrats in particular – you might have this coat on, but I suggest you look at the lining. See what’s on the inside,” she said.

McKoon welcomed Mainor, saying her move shows that the Republican Party is “where diversity of opinion is welcome, where different ideas, talking about different policy ideas and solutions together is a strength, not a weakness.”

“We can disagree but still come together on things that matter the most to us,” McKoon said, pledging to support Mainor’s reelection bid.

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, lambasted Mainor’s switch as a “stinging betrayal” of her Democratic constituents.

“House District 56 deserves a representative who will do the job they were elected to do, including fight for high-quality public education,” Williams said in a statement.

House Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican from Newington, said in a statement that Mainor is “joining the party of opportunity.”

Mainor’s decision and some of her legislative actions are also driven by a much more personal dispute. She sued Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr., Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and the county in federal court in 2022, alleging that they had violated her civil rights in a case where a former campaign worker had stalked her.

Willis claimed Arrington, who was the man’s defense attorney, improperly used his position as a commissioner to get a favorable plea deal for the stalker. Mainor also alleged Willis didn’t adequately investigate the crime before offering the plea deal. U.S. District Judge Sarah Geraghty dismissed the case in March, ruling that the alleged actions couldn’t constitute a civil rights violation even if she accepted all of Mainor’s claims.

The last legislative Democrat in Georgia to switch to the Republican Party was DeKalb County’s Vernon Jones, who plunged into the GOP in January 2021 as a supporter of then-President Donald Trump, at the end of Jones’ last term in the state House. lost a Republican congressional primary runoff in Georgia’s 10th District to current U.S. Rep. Mike Collins despite Trump’s backing.

National News

FILE - Deborah Moody, an administrative clerk at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchora...

Associated Press

Alaska election officials to recalculate signatures for ranked vote repeal measure after court order

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge on Friday disqualified numerous booklets used to gather signatures for an initiative that aims to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting system and gave elections officials a deadline to determine if the measure still had sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The decision by Superior Court […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

UN approves more transparent procedures for people and entities to get off its sanctions lists

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved more transparent procedures Friday for the hundreds of individuals, companies and other entities who are subject to U.N. sanctions and want to get off the blacklists. The resolution, co-sponsored by Malta and the United States, also authorizes the establishment of a new informal working […]

6 hours ago

FILE - Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee meeting, Dec. 13...

Associated Press

Longtime US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who had pancreatic cancer, has died

Longtime U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who helped lead federal efforts to protect women from domestic violence and recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, has died. She was 74. Lillie Conley, her chief of staff, confirmed Friday night that Jackson Lee, who had pancreatic cancer, had died. The Democrat had represented her Houston-based […]

6 hours ago

Stools line the bar at Elwood's Liquor and Tap on Thursday, July 18, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wis. This w...

Associated Press

Outside the RNC, small Milwaukee businesses and their regulars tried to salvage a sluggish week

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jay Nelson was standing outside the convenience store he manages in downtown Milwaukee when one of his regular customers walked by on her daily stroll around the neighborhood. “I’ve been telling people to come and buy even just a bottle of wine,” she said, stretching out her arms. “I hope it helps.” […]

6 hours ago

Descendants of Nelson Bell, brothers Milford Fonza, front left, and Elmer Fonza, front right, surro...

Associated Press

In a California gold rush town, some Black families are fighting for land taken from their ancestors

COLOMA, Calif. (AP) — In a tiny town where the California gold rush began, Black families are seeking restitution for land that was taken from their ancestors to make way for a state park now frequented by fourth graders learning about the state’s history. Their efforts in Coloma, a town of around 300 people that’s […]

7 hours ago

An image of President Joe Biden is projected on a screen during the final night of the 2024 Republi...

Associated Press

Biden’s ability to win back skeptical Democrats tested at a perilous moment for his campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite a week of campaign stops, interviews and a determined insistence he is the best candidate to confront Republican Donald Trump, President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive his reelection bid and win over skeptical Democrats have done little to soften the push for him to exit the 2024 race. Biden has weighty […]

7 hours ago

Georgia Democrat Mesha Mainor, at odds with her party, switches to Republicans