AJC: House Democrats bolster Woodall challenger in 7th District

WASHINGTON —

House Democrats are upping their support of U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall’s challenger less than eight weeks before voters head to the polls in the Gwinnett- and Forsyth-based 7th Congressional District. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House’s campaign affiliate, on Friday announced it was adding Georgia State University Professor Carolyn Bourdeaux to its Red to Blue program, which provides fundraising and organizational support to what it sees as its most competitive recruits. 

The DCCC said Bourdeaux landed a spot in the program by “surpassing aggressive goals for grassroots engagement, local support, campaign organization and fundraising.”

“Carolyn has been doing all of the work,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján told newspaper reporters ahead of the announcement. “She’s been doing the right thing, she’s been earning the support of her constituents and I would keep a very close eye on that race as we head into Election Day.” 

It’s unclear exactly how much support the party plans to give Bourdeaux since the designation does not come with a set financial commitment, although the DCCC said it would provide staff resources, candidate trainings and other guidance. 

The party has added 82 challengers to the program so far this cycle, a show of how bullish Democrats feel about the political climate as they seek to retake control of the House this year. 

The 7th District contest has gotten far less attention than the faceoff in the neighboring 6th but is considered a potential sleeper race by some in Washington given Bourdeaux’s fundraising advantage and changing demographics in Gwinnett County. The Bourdeaux campaign released an internal poll last month showing her and Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, in a tight race. 

The suburban district, however, is still considered to be reliably Republican, and Woodall as an incumbent  enjoys considerable political and organizational advantages.

On the campaign trial, Woodall has projected confidence and largely ignored Bourdeaux. He’s instead highlighted recent legislative work on issues such as taxes and transportation. 

Woodall pointed to voter turnout numbers in this spring’s primary as cause for optimism in a recent interview . 

“Yes, we’re seeing more activity on the left in the 7th District of Georgia than I’ve seen in my lifetime, and yet when it comes to primary voting, (Democrats) underperformed Republicans by more than 10,000 votes,” Woodall said.

The DCCC’s stepped-up investment marks a turnaround for the party in the 7th District. House Democrats passed on the chance to back Bourdeaux six weeks ago, when they added 6th District Democratic challenger Lucy McBath to the Red to Blue program.

The Cook Political Report, the non-partisan election analysis site, ranks the 7th District seat as “likely Republican.” Yet Lujan on Thursday said the 7th District is one that has been “regularly brought to our attention” by allies in Georgia. 

“Each and every one of our Democratic colleagues … believe that this race is very much alive, and put my faith in my colleagues in the direction that they’ve given me,” he said. 

Bourdeaux on Friday called it an “honor” to be added to the program.

Jake Best