The Democratic primary race next week between Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath in the 7th Congressional District in Georgia could boil down to the racial preference of voters.
Ms. Bourdeaux, who is White, and Ms. McBath, who is Black, are running in a primary race for a seat in the most demographically diverse congressional district in the state.
State Rep. Donna McLeod, who is Black, is also competing.
“There are questions about what voter preferences are in such a racially diverse district where a large percentage of voters are people of color,” said Andra Gillespie, professor of political science at Emory University. “You have two Democrats — one is White and one is not White. Are voters going to express a preference for the candidate of color — particularly when they are really equal in terms of their ideological makeup?”
The question has lingered over the contest and could help voters make up their minds when both of the top contenders have compiled similar center-left voting records, according to GovTrack.us.
Ms. Bourdeaux and Ms. McBath have both been considered rising stars in the party after flipping congressional seats in the suburbs northeast of Atlanta in the 2020 and 2018 elections.
Voters will have the final say Tuesday when they go to the polls in Georgia. Early voting has been happening since May 2 and the state has seen record early voting turnout.
To win the nomination outright and avoid a two-person June 21 runoff, a candidate must capture more than 50% of the vote.
The winner of the Democratic primary is expected to sail to victory in the November election.
A former Georgia State University professor and former state Senate budget director, Ms. Bourdeaux is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is committed to finding common ground on issues.
She is running as a champion for voter rights, health care and racial and social justice, citing her support for President Biden’s infrastructure package and legislative push to expand Medicaid.
Ms. McBath, a former flight attendant and breast cancer survivor, made a name for herself as a gun control advocate after her teenage son, Jordan Davis, was shot to death in Florida in 2012.
She is trying to claim the progressive mantle in the race. The political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus and Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund have endorsed her bid.
Ms. Bourdeaux’s path to reelection got trickier after the Georgia legislature adopted new congressional maps that drew her out of the 7th congressional district, which includes much of Gwinnett County, and made the seat more friendly to Democrats.
Ms. McBath’s 6th Congressional District, meanwhile, became more conservative.
Facing a likely defeat, Ms. McBath switched districts, choosing to run against Ms. Bourdeaux, who lives just outside the district. She says “Trump Republicans” are trying to push her out of Congress.
Ms. Bourdeaux says Ms. McBath is handing Republicans her old seat by jumping districts.
“What you are doing by leaving your seat and coming over into the 7th is handing Republicans a seat, handing the NRA a seat, and allowing Kevin McCarthy to be one step closer to becoming speaker,” Ms. Bordeaux said in a recent debate. “Everything that we have been fighting for, you are undermining by leaving and coming and fighting me here.”
Ms. McBath lives well outside the district in Marietta. She says she plans to move into the district if she wins the seat.
Ms. McLeod, meanwhile, is the only candidate that currently resides in the district.
In a recent debate, Ms. Bourdeaux and Ms. McLeod cast Ms. McBath as a carpetbagger, saying she is playing “musical chairs.”
“People know me,” Ms. McBath said in the debate. “They know the work that I’ve done.”
Ms. McBath has raised more than $4.3 million for her campaign and had $1.4 million in the bank as of May 4. Ms. Bourdeaux was sitting on $816,000 after raising more than $3.1 million.