SANDY SPRINGS — U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, told a crowd of voters Sunday she wants to follow in the footsteps of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, but would not go so far as to say she will seek his seat.
“I know that Sen. Isakson was a staunch supporter of our veterans, not only in the delegation, but constantly advocating for them,” she said. “I hope to be able to assume that role because I know how important they are, and their families serve right along with them, and they deserve better, and they deserve it now.”
Speaking before a packed audience at Temple Emanu-el in Sandy Springs, McBath was referencing a bill she introduced that was signed by President Trump last month, the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need Act, also known as the HAVEN Act. Essentially, the act makes it so disability payments made to veterans are not counted as monthly income during bankruptcy proceedings and is intended to make it easier for struggling vets to get by.
Isakson announced his retirement late last month, citing health concerns. Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to name a replacement until voters have their say in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. Georgia’s other U.S. Senator, David Perdue, also a Republican, is set to run again in 2020.
The mention of Isakson seemed to have perked some ears in the crowd. McBath’s name has been tossed about as a possible Democratic Senate candidate.
But when one member of the audience asked her whether she would commit to staying in District 6, she declined to come down either way.
“I’m sure you’ve heard all of the chatter and all of the conversation. … What I will tell you is that I am dedicated to you. … I am invested in you, and I hope to be able to continue to be invested in you in this manner,” she said.
McBath’s 2018 victory over Republican Karen Handel was seen as a major win for Georgia Democrats in an election with plenty for the blue team to be happy about. If she does not run for Senate, she could face off against Handel once more for control of the district which includes part of east Cobb as well as parts of north Fulton and DeKalb counties. Handel has already announced her plans to run again, as have several other Republicans, including state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta.
The 2018 race was a close win for McBath, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the crowd of hundreds in the north Fulton synagogue Sunday. Many wore pins that read “I Love Lucy” or T-shirts with the logo of “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” It was with that gun safety group that McBath first gained national prominence as a spokeswoman after her son, Jordan Davis, was murdered by a gunman in 2012 in what would become known as the loud music case.
McBath said the loss of her son inspired her to become an activist and to later run for office. She fought back tears Sunday as she described a recent trip to Israel when she dipped a scarf that was a present from her son into the River Jordan, which he was named after.
McBath also touted legislation designed to help prevent gun violence, including House Resolution 8, which would increase background checks for gun purchasers and House Resolution 3076, which would allow loved ones and law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms from someone who may be a risk to themselves or others.
She acknowledged that gun control measures such as these are unlikely to go anywhere with a Republican-controlled Senate, but said she will continue to work toward what she calls common sense gun safety measures.
“I will continue to bring forward more gun legislation,” she said. “The gun culture is so expansive, there’s so many more ways and opportunities to eradicate this extreme culture … we’re diligently and rapidly working on this.”
The crowd seemed largely in favor of this idea.
“You, to me, are emblematic of the good citizens, the normal people, the people who have concerns about what’s going on,” said Pat Detweiler, a retiree from Marietta, during the Q and A part of the town hall.
Unlike previous town halls, McBath faced no challenge from her right and was largely praised by the audience.
The only time approaching a moment of friction came after one member of the audience asked McBath where she stands on impeaching President Trump. McBath is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the president. She did not say whether she thinks the president deserves to be impeached, instead saying that justice often takes time to be served.
“I was involved in a process for more than two and a half years trying to get justice for my son and his friends,” she said. “Processes move slowly. … And it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to get to the truth, and that is what we are tasked with. … We don’t want to just jump the gun, so to speak, we have to follow a process.”
“What’s your opinion?” shouted one member of the audience, but McBath continued to the next question.
A later questioner, Rich Levy, who lives in Brookhaven and works in the music industry, said he appreciates McBath for holding town halls, but felt she dodged the question.
“I understand you want all the information and that processes take a long time, but … we deserve to know,” he told McBath.
“I will tell you there is no doubt that I believe there has been obstruction of justice,” McBath answered. “There’s no doubt in my mind, I’ve seen the Mueller report, read the Mueller report … However, I still have a responsibility to carry out the process. At the end of the day, whatever leadership asks of me to do, whatever the Constitution asks of me to do, (I will do). … We have to make sure that justice is truly followed.”
McBath did not take questions from the media after the town hall.