Georgia House candidates clash over health care, COVID-19

ATLANTA (AP) — Candidates in two closely contested suburban Atlanta U.S. House districts continued to clash Tuesday over their views on health care, the pandemic response and the size of government.

Those disagreements were aired in two debates sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club. One was between 6th Congressional District incumbent Lucy McBath, a Democrat, and Republican Karen Handel, the woman McBath unseated in a narrow 2018 victory. Slightly less sharp was a debate between candidates in the neighboring 7th District, where Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux is trying to claim an open seat after falling just short of beating Republican incumbent Rob Woodall in 2018. With Woodall stepping down, Republican Rich McCormick is trying to hold the seat for his party.

Both races are among the most competitive in the nation, with Democrats gaining ground in what was once reliably Republican turf. The 6th District, Georgia’s most affluent, stretches across parts of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties. The rapidly diversifying 7th District includes parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.


McBath labeled Handel as a threat to health care access, saying it’s not a “privilege” but a “right as an American.”

“Your record on health care is absolutely dismal,” McBath told Handel. “You have supported bills that would drive up the cost of health care for people that have pre-existing conditions, not only their treatment, their care and prescription drugs.”

Handel said that portrayal was unfair, and said McBath herself could have done more in Congress to protect people from suffering insurance consequences because of earlier disease or infirmity.

Handel attacked McBath, saying it was the Democrats’ fault that Congress hadn’t been able to approve a new bill for COVID-19 relief

“There is nothing preventing Democrats like you and Speaker Pelosi from getting to the table on that COVID relief package. You don’t want to pass it because you want to pack it full of controversial proposals,” Handel said. “You could get it done if you had the will.”

McBath, though, said she was “proud that the House is still trying to work with the Senate” on additional spending.

McBath sidestepped a question from Handel asking whether McBath would favor adding more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. She instead criticized Republicans for pushing through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

″I’m very concerned about Judge Barrett’s policy agenda, wanting to possibly dismantle the Affordable Care Act that millions of Americans are dependent on, and also her stance on choice,” McBath said, saying she wanted to protect abortion rights.

For her part, Handel said “it’s no secret I’m pro life” and backed Barrett’s confirmation. “A president is elected for four years, not three-and-a-half years or three years and nine months,” Handel said.

The attacks were somewhat less sharp in the 7th District debate, where Bourdeaux continued to argue for expanded health care and blamed Republicans for mismanaging the COVID-19 outbreak, while McCormick again argued that the district needs a low-tax, low-regulation approach.

“Politicians and regulations are not the solution to the

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White House chief of staff hosted 70-person wedding in Georgia despite COVID-19 restrictions: report

Mark Meadows
Mark Meadows

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the press in Statuary Hall at the Capitol on August 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have publicly downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and failed to acknowledge the value of social distancing measures. One such Republican is White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who — according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution — hosted a “lavish wedding” in Atlanta in May that violated the city and state’s social distancing guidelines.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, has been an aggressive supporter of social distancing in her city and has had some major disagreements with Georgia’s far-right Republican governor, Brian Kemp, over the coronavirus pandemic — which, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and over 212,000 people in the United States. Back in May, under Bottoms’ stay-at-home order, gatherings of more than ten people were prohibited in Atlanta — and Georgia had a statewide social distancing order as well at the time. But according to Atlanta Journal Constitution reporters Patricia Murphy and Greg Bluestein, the wedding that Meadows hosted for his daughter had about seven times as many people.

“The wedding took place May 31 at the Biltmore Ballrooms in Midtown Atlanta,” Murphy and Bluestein report. “The 70 or so guests, including U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, donned tuxedos and ball gowns for the indoor affair, but no masks, as Meadows walked his daughter, Haley, down the aisle through a path of soft white flower petals. With crystal chandeliers, marble floors and a frame of soaring Roman arches, the lush scene could have come from any wedding magazine — were it not taking place at the height of a global pandemic.”

During the summer months, Kemp was criticized by many Democrats, including Bottoms, for being too quick to ease Georgia’s coronavirus restrictions. But according to Murphy and Bluestein, Kemp’s statewide coronavirus restrictions were still in place when Meadows hosted that wedding.

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“Although the state of Georgia had loosened some restrictions by the end of May,” Murphy and Bluestein explain, “Gov. Brian Kemp’s orders at the time expressly banned gatherings of more than 10 people. The statewide order in effect — which Kemp signed on May 12 — restricted gatherings of more than 10 people so long as they’re not ‘transitory or incidental,’ or spread out across different locations.”

The reporters note that “pictures of the wedding reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show groups of people clustered closely together in the same room throughout the evening. Under that emergency order, law enforcement could have potentially written citations to the venue for exceeding the gathering size.”

Five months later, Murphy and Bluestein point out, Meadows is facing “intense criticism” for his leadership during the outbreak of COVID-19 infections plaguing the White House — and for a September 26 ceremony for Judge Amy

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Georgia elementary school dedicates butterfly garden to educator killed in crash

The chase began when Georgia State Patrol troopers tried to stop a Mini Cooper, which they clocked going 95 mph on I-75 in Gordon County, the state agency said in a statement. The driver, identified as 20-year-old Christopher Tyler Parker, allegedly refused to stop and continued south. He exited the interstate at Union Grove Road before continuing south on U.S. 41, the GSP said.

ExploreBartow County educator killed during police chase known to students as ‘mom’

Investigators said Parker ran a red light at the intersection of Ga. 140 and smashed into the side of Townsend’s Buick. After the collision, Townsend’s car was sent into the back of a Dodge pickup truck, causing minor injuries to the truck’s driver.

The GSP determined the Mini Cooper had been stolen from Parker’s grandmother. Parker was arrested at the scene and faces charges of vehicular homicide, fleeing and attempting to elude, receiving stolen property and bringing stolen property across state lines.

“Mrs. Townsend was such an amazing part of the White Elementary family,” Heater said in the days following the paraprofessional’s death. “She was truly a devoted staff member who put the needs of our children before her very own. She always had an amazing smile, sense of humor, and a determined, unbreakable spirit. She is going to be missed dearly.”

More than 15 community partners stepped in to provide planters, mulch and soil, Heater said. Townsend’s parents, Jim and Sandra Walker, said the act left them “speechless.”

“This was an overwhelming feeling for us,” they said, “and we felt that was the sweetest way to honor her. She loved White Elementary and her students.”

The community placed two rose bushes in the garden, Heater said, adding that they were Townsend’s “favorite pollinating plants.” It also contains gardenia bushes, a walking trail and a seating area for White Elementary classes to take part in outdoor learning.

The elementary school’s garden club will maintain it, she added.

“Angie would be overjoyed and say, ‘Y’all didn’t have to do all of this,’ and would just sit down and cry,” the Walkers said. “I don’t think she would imagine that she meant so much to so many people.”

REMEMBERING ANGIE TOWNSEND: White Elementary School Art Teacher Bridgette Ballard felt led to paint this picture of our beloved Angie. It captures Angie’s love of children perfectly.

Posted by Bartow County Schools on Thursday, October 8, 2020

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Transgender interior designer Felycya Harris shot to death in Georgia park / LGBTQ Nation

Felycya Harris

Felycya HarrisPhoto: Facebook

A 33-year-old transgender interior designer was found shot to death this past Saturday in Augusta, Georgia.

Felycya Harris’s body was found after 1 p.m. at a city park with one gunshot wound. An autopsy on Monday classified her death as a homicide.

Related: US Marine who murdered a transgender woman was just pardoned

“I went outside and we were just sitting in the car, laughing and talking and jiving on each other” before her death, her friend Ricola Collier told WRDW.

She is the 31st known transgender or non-binary person killed this year in the U.S., according to HRC, in what has become one of the most violent years on record for transgender people. The number is believed to be higher as many murders are not reported in the media and many victims who are transgender or non-binary are misgendered in media reports.

Most of the victims this year have been Black and latina transgender women.

“With news of the death of Felycya Harris, we have hit a grim milestone: we have now matched the highest number of transgender or gender non-conforming people who were victims of fatal violence in one year – and there are three more months left in the year,” said HRC President Alphonso David.

According to the organization, Harris ran her own interior decorating business and said she could do “just about anything with decorating” to make people feel better in their living spaces. She also worked at a furniture store and taught dance.

Her friends said they will remember her “laugh. The smile – the smiles. The talks. The arguments. The attitudes. Everybody is going to remember who Felycya Harris is.”

According to the Augusta Chronicle, friends and family are sharing “Justice for Felycya” posts on Facebook. Police have not yet said if they have a suspect.

At least two other transgender women were murdered in the past two weeks. Mia Green, 29, of Philadelphia, Louisiana was found shot in the neck on September 28 and later died at the hospital.

Abdullah Ibn El-Amin Jaamia, in whose car Green’s body was found, has been arrested in connection to her death.

In Los Angeles, 42-year-old Daniela Hernandez was stabbed in the throat Sunday night after she was surrounded by a group of men in a park who told her “something to the effect of, ‘We don’t want gays in the park,’” according to LAPD.

“We don’t know exactly why, but we know it was simply because she’s trans,” said TransLatina Coalition President and CEO Bamby Salcedo.

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Georgia pastor shocks pregnant Waffle House waitress with $12G tip after learning special detail about baby

What’s in a name?

A Georgia pastor recently gave a Waffle House waitress the surprise of a lifetime after raising a $12,000 tip for the pregnant server, after learning that the woman’s unborn child will have the same name as his late son.

Bishop Eusebio Phelps ordered an All-Star breakfast special from a Stockbridge location of the diner chain last week, and was struck by server Hannah Hill’s kindness, Fox 5 reports.

A Georgia pastor recently gave a Waffle House waitress the surprise of a lifetime after raising a $12,000 tip for the pregnant server.

A Georgia pastor recently gave a Waffle House waitress the surprise of a lifetime after raising a $12,000 tip for the pregnant server.
(New Faith Christian Church)

“She was so nice over the telephone, and when I got there I paid for my food and I told her to keep the change,” Phelps told WXIA-TV. “And then when I looked at her, I asked if she was pregnant — she said yes so at that time I was just really urged to give her the rest of the money that I had in my wallet, which was around $40. And so I gave her the $40 and I told her that I just wanted to be able to bless her so she could buy something for the baby.”

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With just a few weeks to go until her due date, Hill revealed that she planned to name her unborn son Samuel.

Phelps, the leader of New Faith Christian Church, felt that it was a divine sign. His son Samuel died in Atlanta seven years ago, and the anniversary is coming up soon.

"We are so appreciative of the kind gesture made by Bishop Phelps and all of the others who contributed on behalf of our Associate, Hannah Hill," a rep for Waffle House told Fox News.

“We are so appreciative of the kind gesture made by Bishop Phelps and all of the others who contributed on behalf of our Associate, Hannah Hill,” a rep for Waffle House told Fox News.
(iStock)

“I went home, I told my wife what happened… I was like, ‘Listen I wanna raise a thousand dollars to give to Hannah so she can buy whatever she needs for the baby,’” the pastor told the outlet.

Moved, Phelps shared Hill’s story on Facebook. Within about a day, supporters raised over $12,000, per WXIA.

Hill, meanwhile, had no idea it was coming.

“I was asleep in the car and my mother-in-law called and said, ‘You’ve got to get down to the Waffle House now,’” Hill told Fox 5.

Arriving at the restaurant, she was surprised to be greeted by cheering customers and a check for the generous gratuity during what Phelps called “a surprise baby shower.”

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According to Hill, already a mom of one, the tremendous tip will be life-changing.

“Makes me wanna get back in church," Hill said of the chance encounter, and serious surprise.

“Makes me wanna get back in church,” Hill said of the chance encounter, and serious surprise.
(New Faith Christian Church)

“I had a lot going on, and I don’t really pray that often,” she told WXIA. “I’m not necessarily that religious, I wasn’t really raised in the church, don’t go to church a lot, haven’t cracked open a Bible in forever. But lately I

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Democrat challenging QAnon conspiracist candidate in Georgia drops out

  • Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democrat candidate in the race for Georgia’s 14th congressional district, announced on Friday he was dropping out of the race and moving out of the state.
  • Van Ausdal was running opposite the GOP candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, the staunchly pro-Trump candidate who has expressed support for the baseless, far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. 
  • Greene, who won a runoff primary race last month, had already been expected to win the seat in a heavily Republican district.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democratic candidate running against controversial GOP candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia’s 14th congressional district, suddenly dropped out of the House race on Friday.

“I am heartbroken to announce that for family and personal reasons, I cannot continue this race for Congress,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter. “After lengthy discussions with my team, attorneys, party officials, and others, the answer was clear, stepping aside would be best for the voters.

Van Ausal said he would be moving from Georgia, which would render him ineligible to run for the seat. He said he was resigning from the race so that the Democratic Party had “a chance to put forward a candidate that can carry this fight to the end.”  

“I will put every resource, every bit of knowledge into the campaign that comes behind me to defeat Marjorie and restore hope to the people of Northwest Georgia,” he said.

According to a Politico report, the Georgia Democratic Party asked Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to officially disqualify Van Ausdal from the ballot and to be allowed to name a replacement candidate, though it’s not clear if he will allow them to do so.

According to Georgia law, a vacancy stemming from the “withdrawal of a candidate less than 60 days prior to the date of the election shall not be filled,” as Politico noted.

Greene was already favored to win the race because the district leans strongly Republican. President Donald Trump won 75% of the vote there in 2016, Business Insider previously noted.

Greene, who in August won a runoff primary race to become the only Republican candidate in the race, has made headlines for controversial statements and her promotion of a baseless, far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that the world is run by a Satanic cabal of elites aiming to bring down Donald Trump and his presidency.

The QAnon the conspiracy theory, which originated on 4chan, is centered around an unknown online individual called “Q,” who claims to have a top-security security clearance, as Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth and Eliza Relman previously reported.

 

 

“Q is a patriot, we know that for sure, but we do not know who Q is,” Greene said in a 2017 video posted to social media. “I don’t know who Q is, but I’m just going to tell you about it because I think it’s something worth listening to

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