ATLANTA (AP) — There may be no better embodiment of the uphill underdog struggle in many of Georgia's congressional districts than the 9th District contest pitting Democrat Devin Pandy against Republican Andrew Clyde in the state's northeast corner.
The district is intensely Republican, with Pandy trying to get members of the GOP to consider his candidacy. But money is among the obstacles. Clyde's campaign committee has spent more than $1.7 million this cycle, with more than $1.4 million in loans from Clyde himself, who owns an Athens gun dealership and lives in Jackson County. Pandy has raised $67,000.
“We have yet another millionaire businessman, attempting to buy elections by dropping several hundred thousand dollars on his own campaign, a millionaire who has made millions from the same government agencies he’s now telling you he’s against,” Pandy, a Commerce resident, said during an Atlanta Press Club debate this month.
Clyde is sailing on, barely acknowledging Pandy's attacks after emerging from a competitive Republican primary field seeking to replace Republican Doug Collins after the current incumbent decided to run for U.S. Senate. The district covers all or part of 17 counties from Athens and Gainesville north to the state line.
Both men are military veterans, with Clyde having served in the Navy, while Pandy served in the Army. Clyde has made his support of gun rights and his tangle with the IRS after the agency seized $940,000 from him in 2013 the centerpieces of his campaign. Clyde successfully got most of the money back and then persuaded Congress this year to change the law to bar such seizures. He wants to abolish the federal income tax and instead implement a national sales tax, long a popular idea among Georgia Republicans.
On guns, Clyde calls universal background checks “a very bad idea.”
“When you support universal background checks, you’re basically telling the federal government that you have the authority to regulate the Second Amendment," Clyde said during the debate. "And, you know, the Second Amendment shall not be infringed. That’s what the Constitution says."
Pandy pledges a bipartisan little-guy approach, arguing that it's hypocritical for Clyde to sell guns to a federal government he professes to want to dismantle and says he supports a universal basic income. He says his priorities will include better access to health care, a higher minimum wage and an end to tariffs he says are hurting farmers.
One other point of conflict in the race is climate change. Pandy says he wants to see progress on the issue, while Clyde, denying the scientific consensus, says he believes manmade climate change doesn't exist.
“I will hold court with those scientists who don’t believe in man-made climate change,” Clyde said in the debate. “You know, we have four seasons of the year, the climate changes every year, four times.”
The 9th District isn't the only district where one candidate is a longshot. Here's a look at nine districts across Georgia where an incumbent is favored:
Republican Buddy Carter seeks a fourth term in Congress, opposed by Joyce Marie Griggs in the coastal 1st District. Carter touts President Donald Trump's pre-pandemic economic record and says he would focus on economic recovery. Griggs says it's key to keep the Affordable Care Act in place, and she wants more stimulus money for people because of COVID-19. Carter derides the idea of defunding police, while Griggs says society needs police but she wants to demilitarize them.
Republican activist Don Cole is challenging longtime Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop in southwest Georgia's 2nd Congressional District. Bishop campaigns as a moderate Democrat focused on development in his district, also calling for a stronger federal response to COVID-19. Cole has supported former Gov. Sonny Perdue and current U.S. Sen. David Perdue and says he'll focus on economic development.
Incumbent Republican Drew Ferguson faces Democrat Val Almonord seeking his third term in western Georgia's 3rd District. Ferguson has touted work to increase internet access and improve business competitiveness. Almonord argues for expanding health care, more COVID-19 relief, job creation and policies to reduce gender inequality.
Incumbent Democrat Hank Johnson faces Republican Johsie Cruz Ezammudeen, seeking a seventh term in the U.S. House representing Atlanta’s eastern suburbs. Johnson touts criminal justice reform and improving internet access. Cruz, an insurance consultant, ran on her support for Trump, opposition to abortion and support for capitalism.
Democrat Lindsey Holliday and Green Party member Jimmy Cooper are trying to block incumbent Republican Austin Scott from a sixth term in middle and south Georgia’s 8th District. Scott has focused on supporting agriculture, rural hospitals and military bases. Holliday, a Macon dentist, argues Trump endangers democracy and seeks a stronger federal response to COVID-19.
Incumbent Republican Jody Hice seeks a fourth term in Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, running from suburban Atlanta to Augusta. He face Democrat Tabitha Johnson-Green for the second straight time. Hice has been a vocal Trump defender, voicing support for police and opposition to abortion. Johnson-Green, a nurse and business owner from Sandersville, emphasizes expanding access to health care.
Republican Barry Loudermilk faces Democratic challenger Dana Barrett in Georgia’s 11th Congressional District. A win would give Loudermilk a fourth term in the district including all of Cherokee and Bartow and parts of Fulton and Cobb counties. Loudermilk focuses on economic recovery with low taxes, less regulation and individual empowerment. Barrett seeks affordable health care, equal economic opportunity and reduced influence of money in politics.
Republican Rick Allen seeks a fourth term against Democrat Liz Johnson in eastern Georgia’s 12th Congressional District. Allen has opposed efforts to expand health care coverage and federal education and social service programs. Johnson is a longtime party activist who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for state insurance commission in 2014.
Incumbent Democrat David Scott faces Republican Becky Hites to represent Georgia’s 13th Congressional District in Atlanta's southern suburbs. Scott advocates for more money for COVID-19 relief, gun control and extended broadband internet services. Hites is a steel industry consultant who says she will work to improve the district's economy.