A Georgia lawmaker who represents part of Atlanta in the state House of Representatives switched her party affiliation to Republican this week after repeatedly breaking with her former party on several key votes this session.
State Rep. Mesha Mainor announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party for the Republican Party at a news conference on Tuesday.
District 56 is a Democratic stronghold that covers a swath of Fulton County stretching from parts of Atlanta’s westside up to midtown. Mainor won her last primary against two other Democrats with 65% of the vote and she ran unopposed in the 2020 and 2022 general elections. President Joe Biden won Fulton County with more than 70% of the vote in 2020.
Shortly after her news conference, she tweeted, “I represent a blue district in the city of Atlanta so this wasn’t a political decision for me. It was a a MORAL one. I will NEVER apologize for being a black woman with a mind of my own.”
Democrats called the flip a betrayal, pointing to the deep-blue district Mainor was elected to represent.
Republicans, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, sent tweets welcoming her to the GOP, with several posting interviews she did on Fox News shortly after the announcement. Mainor was also welcomed to the GOP on social media by Tricia Cotham, a North Carolina state representative from a blue district who switched from Democrat to Republican earlier this year.
A two-term member, Mainor had come under fire by members of the Democratic Party this session after voting with Republicans on a number of issues, including on police budgets and an oversight commission for prosecutors.
She was the lone Democrat to vote for a failed bill on private school vouchers, which prompted a then-fellow Atlanta Democrat – State Senator Josh McLaurin – to tweet, “All I need is a name,” with a photo of a blank check for $1,000 for a primary challenger in Mainor’s district.
“The harassment and intimidation is much bigger than three votes,” said Mainor, surrounded by a handful of supporters and the state GOP chairman, at her announcement. “It’s about fear, fear of an outsider coming to the capitol working for the people she came up here to serve.”
“Rep. Mesha Mainor’s switch to the GOP is a stinging betrayal of her constituents, who elected a Democrat to represent them in the state legislature,” said US Rep. Nikema Williams, who chairs the state’s Democratic Party, in a statement. “House District 56 deserves a representative who will do the job they were elected to do, including fight for high-quality public education. Georgia Democrats look forward to electing a strong Democrat next year in H.D. 56 who will serve the people, not personal political ambitions.”
The switch gives Republicans a 102 to 78 majority in the Georgia House. It also makes Mainor the only Black Republican currently serving in Georgia’s legislature and the first Black woman Republican ever to serve in the state House, according to the House GOP caucus.
The last party switch in the Georgia state legislature happened in 2021, when Vernon Jones – a major supporter of former President Donald Trump – flipped from Democrat to Republican near the end of his state House term.