In a surprising turn of events, a Democratic Georgia state legislator from Atlanta has switched sides, becoming a Republican.
Representative Mesha Mainor, 48, made the decision after facing backlash from her own party for her support of school vouchers and her desire for stricter prosecution.
Mainor expressed discontent with former Democrat colleagues
Mainor, now the only black member of the state GOP, expressed her discontent with her former colleagues, accusing them of trying to sabotage her work and embracing left-wing radicalism.
In a press conference outside the Georgia Capitol, she stated, “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.
Mainor claims Democrats have embraced ‘lawlessness’ and ‘radicalism’
“I didn’t leave the Democrat Party,” she continued. “The Democrat Party left ME when it embraced left-wing radicalism, lawlessness and put the interests of illegal aliens over the interest of Americans.”
“I have nothing to apologize for,” she said.
Despite facing challenges within her own party and due to deeply personal reasons related to a stalking incident where Mainor believed her stalker received lenient treatment, she had long been on the outskirts as part of a minority faction within Atlanta-area Democrats.
Mainor stood alone in opposition to the school voucher bill
The tension between Mainor and her fellow Democrats reached its peak earlier this year when she stood as the lone Democrat supporting a school voucher bill.
However, the bill failed to pass after several House Republicans defected from their party’s stance to oppose it.
While school choice has garnered some support among urban Black Democrats, Mainor faced scorn from her own party members.
Interestingly, Republicans rallied in support of Mainor, demonstrating their backing for her position.
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Mainor welcomed with open arms by Republicans
“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,” Mainor said.
Republican Josh 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 re-election bid.
Democrat labels switch a ‘stinging betrayal’
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, strongly criticized Mainor’s switch, considering it a “stinging betrayal” of her Democratic constituents.
Williams stated, “House District 56 deserves a representative who will do the job they were elected to do, including the fight for high-quality public education,” expressing disappointment in Mainor’s decision.
The choices and legislative maneuvers of Mainor are influenced in part by a deeply personal conflict. In 2022, she launched a lawsuit in federal court against Marvin Arrington Jr., a Fulton County Commissioner, Fani Willis, the Fulton County District Attorney, and the county itself. Mainor accused them of infringing her civil rights in an incident involving a past campaign employee who had stalked her.
Willis claimed that Arrington, who served as the stalker’s defense attorney, improperly utilized his position as a commissioner to secure a favorable plea deal for the individual.
Mainor also alleged that Willis failed to adequately investigate the crime before offering the plea deal.
In March, U.S. District Judge Sarah Geraghty dismissed the case, ruling that the alleged actions couldn’t constitute a civil rights violation even if she accepted all of Mainor’s claims.
The most recent legislative Democrat in Georgia to switch to the Republican Party was DeKalb County’s Vernon Jones, who made the move in January 2021 as a supporter of then-President Donald Trump toward the end of Jones’ final term in the state House.
Jones withdrew from a Republican primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp at Trump’s behest but ultimately lost in a Republican congressional primary runoff in Georgia’s 10th District to the current U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, despite Trump’s endorsement.