Mar 29, 2022 - Politics

Primary challengers take aim at longtime Georgia Rep. David Scott

Rep. David Scott

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty

Ahead of the May 24th primaries, Axios Atlanta is spotlighting notable statewide and metro Atlanta elections. First up: the 13th District’s Democratic primary.

Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), the first Black chair of the House Agriculture Committee, has represented this deep blue Southwestern metro Atlanta district for nearly 20 years.

  • After narrowly avoiding a runoff in 2020, he's now facing three more primary challengers — all Black candidates with self-described progressive platforms.

Why it matters: The contest is spotlighting two movements in the Democratic Party — generational change and the rise of progressives to challenge establishment candidates.

What we're watching: Scott’s challengers are painting the 76-year-old incumbent as out of touch and absent, and they're taking aim at what they describe as his centrist voting record.

  • Former South Fulton City Councilmember Mark Baker, who supports ending police chokeholds and no-knock warrants and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, tells Axios that Scott doesn't attend enough local functions. “If you never see what’s going on, you can never be a proponent of change because you don’t even know what the problems are.”
  • Shastity Driscoll, a former schoolteacher and district native, tells Axios Scott's focus "may have shifted away from what our residents need right now.” It is her perception that "we’ve been left to navigate the pandemic… completely on our own."
  • Another challenger, former state Sen. Vincent Fort, who in a past mayoral campaign won the endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders, described Scott as “one of the most conservative Democrats in a progressive district.”

Yes, but: Scott has a long history in the district and is known for his regular health and job fairs. He also has powerful allies, including Nancy Pelosi. He had about $1 million in his campaign coffers in December.

  • Scott declined an interview request from Axios. Earlier this year, he told Politico that he had no plans to retire in the face of concerns raised anonymously by fellow Democratic lawmakers about his ability to continue leading the panel.
  • A crowded primary could potentially help Scott if his rivals dilute one another's votes. But he must win more than 50% of the vote to avert a runoff.
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