ATLANTA — Nov 8, 2018, 3:59 PM ET

Mother on a mission: Gun control advocate wins US House race

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In a campaign ad pierced by the sound of gunfire, Lucy McBath earlier this year laid out the story of her 17-year-old son's shooting death and how his loss propelled her to activism.

The story resonated with voters, who elected her Tuesday to fill a long-red House seat that Georgia Republicans held onto just last year.

"We've sent a strong message to the entire country," McBath tweeted Thursday after Rep. Karen Handel conceded. "Absolutely nothing — no politician & no special interest — is more powerful than a mother on a mission."

McBath's son, Jordan Davis, was slain at a Jacksonville, Florida gas station in 2012 by a white man who was angry over the loud music the black teenager and his friends had been playing in their car.

Michael Dunn used the "stand-your-ground" law in his defense, but was convicted and is serving a life sentence.

After her son's slaying, McBath became active in gun control advocacy. John Feinblatt, who heads the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, said McBath first came to them as a volunteer and eventually joined the staff and headed faith outreach efforts.

"We saw in Lucy a natural leader that people immediately started to look up to for her real devotion to honoring her son and ability to rally others," he said.

Over the years she's testified before Congress and spoken at rallies, often wearing a button with her son's photo on it. In the 2016 presidential race, as a member of "Mothers of the Movement," she endorsed Hillary Clinton. The Mothers group is a sisterhood of black women whose sons were shot to death by white men or police officers.

McBath decided to run for office after the February massacre at a south Florida high school, she said during a campaign rally. In running against Handel, McBath made gun control a key issue, sharing with voters her personal journey.

"I lost my son Jordan but I'm still his mother. And I still continue to mother him through making sure that I preserve the lives of other children like him," she said during a television ad.

The longtime Delta Airlines flight attendant also frequently mentioned her battle with breast cancer during the campaign as she attacked Handel on health care issues.

Her neophyte campaign for the suburban Atlanta seat former House Speaker Newt Gingrich held got a big boost from Democrat Stacey Abrams' efforts to increase turnout in the governor's race. McBath appeared on stage with Abrams and former President Barack Obama during a campaign event last week.

Handel conceded Thursday and offered McBath "good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her." McBath's victory extends Democrats' strength in suburban districts.

In 2016, Rep. Tom Price cruised to victory without a serious Democratic challenge. But his resignation to join President Donald Trump's Cabinet as health secretary set off a fierce special election battle featuring Handel against Democrat Jon Ossoff. Handel won, leaving the appearance that the district was still fundamentally Republican.

But getting any kind of gun control measures signed into law, as McBath hopes, will be difficult if not impossible in the next Congress.

Republicans expanded their Senate majority Tuesday, and Trump remains a favored ally of the National Rifle Association. In his midterm campaign sweep, the president frequently delighted his boisterous rallies with promises to "protect the Second Amendment."

Another congressional race remained too close to call Thursday in the neighboring 7th District. Absentee ballots were still being counted in Gwinnett County, where four-term GOP incumbent Rob Woodall remains locked in a tight contest with Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, a college professor who outpaced the congressman in total fundraising.

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Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Atlanta; and Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, contributed.

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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  • goatboy

    There is no rocket science here. The Republicans have spent 20+ years now trying to divide the country and adopt ways to outright cheat, so that their old bony white hands can still clutch power in a party who refuses to adapt to an ever changing demographic country wide. They made a decision to not grovel for votes from people who have a darker hue in the pigment contained in their skin cells. The Republican party in essence is a white Nationalist party and they cheat every chance they get. Gerrymandering is so disgusting and unethical, yet, it became part of the the party's credo to redraw districts that would insure Republican senators of victory even though there were far more Democrats in what should be their districts. Donald Trump is a liar and a scum bag of epic proportions and he continues to get away with corruption to the nth degree. Trump is a professional criminal who should have been in prison for the rest of his life years ago. Trump will happily destroy America to protect himself while he is trying to remain in power permanently.

  • yetanother1

    Congratulations to Ms. McBath on her election to the house. I wish her well in her pursuit of sensible gun control. I am a gun owner, but I don't own or need an AK47, hand grenades, rocket launcher or any other form of weaponry to feel safe in my home or yard.

    I also remember the shooting of her son. What a courageous woman, turning her sorrow and grief into action.

  • Kim35

    I remember the shooting that took her son from her.....I live in Jacksonville where it happened.

    Poor kid committed the sin of being in a car that was playing loud music when some old drunk white guy shot at the car.

    I hope she's found some peace.

  • Jack

    good for her! her cause is a very worthy one... too bad she had to lose her son to become an agent of change. we must get a handle on guns.. good common sense laws are needed and must be demanded by shaming this president.. what a failure...

  • Forward forward

    Good for her. We won't flip the gun issue in this Congress or the next, but we need to keep speaking and pushing. Another dozen mass murdered in California last night. Ms McBath will be another voice for sanity, reason, responsibility, and safety. Gun violence is a massive public health care menace, and needs to be addressed on many fronts.

  • drathvedar

    Good news. 😊

  • jake

    Trump will never admit that he is the reason the GOP lost the House. Trump didn't save the GOP from the blue-wave. He was the cause of the blue-wave.

  • Dennis Morris

    Mother on a mission - and a good mission it is.

  • notorious

    Abigail Spanberger — in case you forgot her name — just flipped Virginia's 7th district blue after 47 years of GOP control.

  • Juggles

    I do not understand why some feel that we should not beef up gun laws because it will make it difficult for law abiding citizens to purchase guns.... It is a huge pain in the butt for me to have to unpack my carry on, take my laptop out of its case, take my shoes off, and throw my water out only to have to buy a new one on the other side of security for $5,.... etc.... but it is what we need to do in order to prevent a terrorist from killing more innocent Americans.... I have to jump through hoops to get my daughter's monthly meds as they are a controlled substance but it is what I need to do in order to prevent abuse of prescription drugs.... Why is it so unthinkable for some to be inconvenienced in an effort to keep all of us a bit safer?

  • notorious

    Sex is great and all, but there's nothing like the feeling of voting a Trump republican out of office. (Phew.....I need a cigarette!)

  • Bob Marshall

    Good for her. I don't agree with her particular primary issue but this is how politics should be. We need more people willing to stand up and fight the establishment.

  • Mike Boomer

    trump is an ignorant mad man and the W.H. Press Core should walk out and not return until a new Real President resides again in the W.H.; cut trump off from all network coverage. Cover Real News instead of this bully.

  • Powderedtoastman

    Thanks, Donald.

  • Tertulliano

    I applaud the gesture as it is being rare in nature, nowadays.

  • madison55

    Good luck to her.

  • Indie6050

    Living on the east coast most of my life, I always had issues with his character and behavior even before he ran for office. But now that he is the potus, it is getting worse. I think there more underlying issues with the president, possibly some mental problems ?

  • HadEnoughYet

    Hopefully the Dems can replicate this more. Having more moderate candidates is the winning ticket.

  • James Coletrane

    Respect for the GOP incumbent being a class act in her loss.

  • John Galt

    It looks like the GOP is now the party of old white people living in rural areas and small cities. I only hope that one day they find out there is more than one channel for news other than Fox.

  • StrontiDog

    I guess Handel wasn't the Messiah, after all. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

  • Prophet With Honor

    The seat once held by Newt has gone Democratic, wow.

  • poultrygeist

    Republicans better hurry up and redraw that district !

  • Sal Monela

    Good for the new candidate, and kudos for the incumbent for showing a modicum of class.

  • ROBOTIX JONES

    Times are changing.