Among the races for U.S. House of Representatives around the country, few are as closely watched and contested as Georgia's 7th Congressional District. After five-term Republican Rob Woodall declared he would not seek re-election, several have considered entering the race. Challengers include Woodall's 2018 opponent, Georgia Legislators, a former NFL star, business executives and a number of first-time politicians.
Hear from the candidates who hope to represent Georgia's 7th Congressional District. Each candidate was given two minutes to explain the top issue that has driven them to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lisa Babbage (R)
“My name is Lisa Babbage and I am a candidate for Georgia's 7th Congressional District. Gwinnett and Forsyth County have both experienced steady growth in the past 10 years.
Yet in order to sustain a stable economy we have to bring manufacturing and technology enterprise closer to home. It is no longer functional for people to spend 45 minutes each way on a daily commute in order to work downtown. Bringing industry into our communities brings a broader tax base and grows our quality of life.
We also need to make sure that students graduating from high school and college are career ready. One of the biggest draws for Georgia's 7th is the vast opportunity we have to make raising a family possible for middle America. Too many people are living paycheck to paycheck. That's why I'm investing a portion of my congressional salary back into the 7th with grants to small businesses and civic organizations. I also want to foster partnerships between public and private funds that benefit the working-class families in our communities.
As an educator I know the value of our future generations and cutting government spending is the only responsible response to the debt our nation has. Let's face it our economy is the most important issue in this election because we want to continue to grow so that each one of us comes home to a safer more prosperous community.
I have been a resident of Gwinnett County for over 15 years and I am proud to say I raised my children here. Let me connect Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue with a clearer vision and clearer purpose in 2020. I am asking for your vote in the March primary. My name is Lisa Noel Babbage.”
Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)
“Hello, my name is Carolyn Bourdeaux and I'm running as a Democrat for Congress in the 7th Congressional District. I'm a wife, a mother of a 7-year-old and a professor of public policy at the Andrew Young School at Georgia State.
The reason I got into this race last cycle and the number one pocketbook issue for many people in the 7th is health care. My father was a diabetic and my mother cared for him. Sometimes they couldn't even come visit us because all of their discretionary income was consumed with paying health care expenses such as for my father's insulin. Meanwhile 100,034 people in the 7th District don't have health insurance. That's around 15 percent. And those who do may pay two to three thousand dollars a month for coverage. This is a system that is simply broken.
Everybody deserves access to affordable quality health care. We need to bring down the cost of prescription drugs by leveraging the purchasing power of programs such as Medicare to negotiate in bulk prescription drug prices. We need to implement the Affordable Care Act the way it was intended including expanding Medicaid. And then we need a robust public option available to families, individuals and small businesses so that everyone has an affordable health insurance option.
In 2018 I ran on health care and we closed a 20-percentage point gap between Republicans and Democrats in the 7th District and made this race the closest in the country. I also ran on a vision of this country that is diverse, inclusive and global in its outlook and aspirations. Not racist misogynist and anti-immigrant. Such is the language and policies that we hear coming out of this current administration. To check out our campaign and become involved you can find us at CarolynForCongress.com. Thank you.”
Benjamin Bullock (R)
"Hey everyone, it's Ben Bullock Republican candidate for Georgia's 7th District. I first want to start by thanking Georgia Public Broadcasting for the opportunity to speak and also want to thank you, the listeners, for tuning in and hearing about our vision for moving the 7th forward.
So, the most critical issue facing the district today is economic development and how that pertains to our jobs and our commutes. So, I talked to people all the time that spend an hour to an hour and a half in the car each way in the morning and the afternoon. I think the average commute time for the district is 55 minutes. And this is a total tragedy to me. This means less productive time in the morning when we get to work and less quality time with our families when we get home in the evenings. And this problem can be tackled and remedied through a few simple strategies.
The first is job creation. It's creating more jobs, better jobs and higher paying jobs in the district and that comes through corporate relocations. That comes through convincing companies to move their headquarters or an arm of their business to the district to be closer to where their employees live. I think that should be a simple sell for companies that want a happy employee base. And it also comes through better infrastructure, infrastructure that can significantly reduce the commute time. And if that's not possible makes the commute much easier to bear.
And so, while I think economic development is the most critical issue I also want to talk about national security. Currently only 18 percent of members on Capitol Hill have a military background. Yet these individuals sit on the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee and make big decisions about things they don't know much about. That number is way too low for my comfort especially when you consider everything going on in the world like Iran and North Korea. Our way to remedy that is to send another veteran like myself to Capitol Hill. So those are my two main issues. Thank you for your time. And please visit us on our website at BullockForGa.com."
Marqus Cole (D)
“Hi, my name is Marqus Cole and I'm running to serve as the next congressman from the Georgia 7th Congressional District. Time and time again I hear from my neighbors in this community that the number one issue that impacts them is health care.
How do I keep up with skyrocketing premiums? How do I cover an unexpected out-of-pocket expense? How does the family rally together for grandma’s home health care expenses? Will I have to make my prescription stretch out over the month? Can I leave my job to start a small business knowing I won't have insurance? Will my wife who is a person of color get the type of service in the maternity ward that she deserves? Will that rural hospital stay open? Will the only specialists in town accept my insurance?
So many questions from so many people. When I get to Washington I will fight for a health care system that is affordable, accessible and meets the needs of my neighbors. The answer is to ensure that every Georgian in the 7th district and all over this great state gets the health care coverage they are entitled to. That is what I plan on doing when I get to Washington, D.C. when you elect me as the next congressman from the Georgia 7th.”
John Eaves (D)
“Hello, my name is John Eaves and I'm running for Congress District 7, which is Gwinnet County and a portion of Forsyth County. We live in a wonderful and dynamic district; great schools, strong neighborhoods and tremendous diversity.
But the greatest threat to our future is traffic congestion. On a daily basis we have 300,000 cars that drive along that I-85 corridor from Jimmy Carter Boulevard to 285. And I believe that the most plausible solution to the traffic we're experiencing is regional expansion of MARTA. There are 300,000 reasons why we need to have MARTA in our district.
I'm the only candidate in the race who has skin in the game, who has experience, who has been at the table developing a solution to the problem of traffic in Forsyth and Gwinnett County as well as the region and this plan is called Concept 3. I was at the table in 2010. Today my friends I'm committed to seeing that plan reach fruition bringing MARTA to our district so that we can have better flow of traffic, ease of mobility and the ability to drive from work, to play, to home on a daily basis with minimum time sitting on the roads.
This will require working hard, working with others, working with local leaders to make sure that we're successful in our effort. So, I believe that the number one challenge that we have is traffic. But the number one solution that we have at our hands is regional transit expansion to District 7. As your future congressman I'm committed to making that the number one issue and I'm very confident with your support that we will be successful. Thank you.”
Mark Gonsalves (R)
“I'm Mark Gonsalves running for Congress in District 7 here in the great state of Georgia. We are currently embroiled in partisan rancor. This has to stop. We've created an environment where we're no longer talking about the issues, just screaming at each other.
What's going on on our southern border is now a crisis. And I want to be very clear, no sovereign nation can remain sovereign absent secure borders. A country that cannot control its borders cannot control its destiny. Now we would all agree throughout our history we have always welcomed our invited guests to join in the community that is America. But it's not okay when those who have not been invited feel entitled to come in our back door and take a seat at our dinner table. That's why I stand with those who say we must first secure our southern border.
We must enforce our visa laws because half the undocumented immigrants arrive here on an airplane. And I believe that a country has the right, in fact I would argue the obligation, to enforce its immigration policy. Once we've done those things we can sit down and discuss who can be a guest worker and who should and could be placed on a path to citizenship.
The irony is we all know how big this problem is. Yet nothing is being done in Washington. All we do is scream at each other. You can learn more about my positions on the issues by going to MarkCongress2020.com.”
Lynne Homrich (R)
“My name is Lynne Homrich and I'm a Republican running for U.S. Congress in Georgia's 7th Congressional District. I'm not a career politician. I'm a mom of four who got off the sidelines to run for office because I have that business experience we need more of in government.
I spent decades as a business leader at Home Depot and I founded non-profits in Georgia to empower young women and girls. Under the president's policies our economy is booming, and Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are home to incredible growth. We have record low unemployment and people flocking to our community for jobs and opportunities. But every day we hear extreme plans from Nancy Pelosi and Washington liberals, extreme plans with trillion-dollar price tags. The important challenge we face is protecting our economy and our way of life from unrealistic unworkable policies and putting common sense back to work in Washington.
We need more outsiders in Washington. Outsiders with real world experience who will keep this great economy going. As someone with decades of business experience I'll bring that outsider perspective and take on politicians in both parties who have failed to get us results. In Washington I will oppose tax hikes and fight every day to make sure that the federal government stays out of the way so small businesses and entrepreneurs can be successful and paychecks can grow. A strong economy also means we must secure our border, make sure families have affordable health care and invest in our schools.
It's time for competency not chaos. Results not resistance. I'm ready to rewrite the rules and reset the bar in Congress on what it means to get results for our families. Learn more about my mission to change Washington by visiting LynneHomrich.com.”
Nabilah Islam (D)
"My name is Nabilah Islam and I'm running to be your next congresswoman in the 7th Congressional District. I'm the daughter of working class immigrants. I was born at Crawford Long Hospital and raised in Norcross and Lawrenceville. I'm a proud Central Gwinnett High School graduate. Gwinnett is where I call home.
I'm running for Congress because we deserve a representative who can tell our story. A representative who knows firsthand what it means to work low wage jobs, who knows the burden of oppressive medical bills, who knows that we need to invest in public education because it changed the trajectory of her life. A representative who is ready to give our community the voice it deserves.
My parents immigrated to America 40 years ago from Bangladesh with nothing. They are survivors of a political genocide. My mother grew up in a tin hut mud floor home. My parents came to Georgia seeking the American dream. They knew they could give me and my little brother an education and a chance to do better. They did.
I've been on the frontlines of progressive politics for nearly a decade. I fought to help elect progressive candidates up and down the ballot. From city council races to presidential races. I've stood up as a progressive in the south to fight for racial, religious and economic equality. I'm running because I want to make sure that regardless of your race, religion, creed or socioeconomic status that no single person in this district is left behind.
And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't running because of my core belief that Donald Trump is a profound threat to our families, the American Dream and the very foundation of our democracy. We are better than Donald Trump. I know this with certainty. I know how great we are and how great we can be.
My family's story, our Georgia story is proof of that greatness. My story isn't unique. It goes untold. It is a story of so many people in our community. It's a story of hard work opportunity setbacks and making things better for the next generation. When you send me to Congress I'll make sure our stories are heard. My name is Nabilah Islam and I humbly ask for your vote."
Lerah Lee (R)
“Good morning. My name is Lerah Lee I'm running for Congress to be your voice in Washington. I'm not a professional politician or in the back pocket of any special interest groups or a celebrity. I am a mother of five children, a devoted wife, an educator and a PhD who wants a better future for our country and for the next generation.
It's not enough for our elected officials to talk about an issue. We need real leadership on the serious issues confronting our nation such as illegal immigration, out of control federal spending and government bureaucrats thinking they know better when it comes to our health care decisions and how we educate our children.
As a mother I fear that the Democrat Socialists give away an open borders agenda will destroy the country we love for our children who deserve the best. As your next congresswoman I will support border security, ending chain migration and the catch and release policy, prohibiting taxpayer funds for welfare benefits and ending sanctuary cities. It is time to end the political games in D.C. when it comes to our border security.
If you want to elect another career politician who will talk, I am not your candidate. If you want a motivated mom, PhD and educator who will take action then I would be honored to have your vote in the Republican primary. For more information please go to LerahLee.com. Thank you.”
Brenda Lopez Romero (D)
“My name is Brenda Lopez Romero and I'm running for Georgia's 7th Congressional District. We have many concerns and issues here but one very broad one and that is the divisive rhetoric that we've seen under this administration that is affecting all fellow Americans. And we have also seen this implemented in its policies. Through the family separations at the border, the inhumane conditions we have seen at the detention centers and even for our national security concerns. We have seen the removal of foreign aid to Central Americans that actually causes a detriment to our position and our standing in our own country.
But also, we have seen that experience translate locally to Georgia and to the 7th. Through 287(g) agreements, which are collaborations between municipalities and I.C.E. that do not provide safety to the residents that live in these municipalities. And most recently we had a resident of Gwinnett that was harassed and threatened as she was leaving a shopping center because of the political stickers that she had on her car. But there are fixes.
We can work in a bipartisan fashion for sensible comprehensive immigration reform. We can as Congress keep our constitutional duty to ensure that we have oversight over the executive departments. And also, we can continue to work instead, focusing on making our country prosperous by ensuring that we have affordable quality health care access and that we work to ensure that we have the best public education schools.”
Richard McCormick (R)
“I'm E.R. doctor Rich McCormick and I'm running for Congress in the 7th Congressional District because this is the nation that I have served and sacrificed for over 20 years.
This election is not about me but about the future opportunities and freedoms we leave our children. I live and work in the district with my wife Debra and my children go to school here. We attend church locally where my son and I serve in student ministry.
I've been an educator in the public and private school systems at both Morehouse College and Georgia Tech and I understand the challenges our teachers face. I've served as a Marine pilot and an E.R. physician making life and death decisions under the most stressful conditions. I've deployed to multiple combat zones overseas and I served as the Department Head of Emergency Medicine in Kandahar, Afghanistan and now serve at Gwinnett Medical Center.
I bring a lifetime of proven leadership as a Marine pilot, emergency physician, an educator and as a man of faith. Our nation faces daunting issues and we need a fighter with the experience to match the challenges that will shape our nation for the years to come. Vote McCormick for Congress in the 7th District. Semper Fidelis.”
Joe Profit (R)
“Hello this is Joe Profit and this message is to the good people of the 7th Congressional District. If I was asked what is the single most important issue that faces our nation today, I would have to say that it is divisiveness.
We are divided as a nation and if we don't come together no matter what the issues are we will not be successful in our efforts. I'm running for Congress because I want to put my experience and conservative values to work solving problems.
I'm a conservative with honor. And I want to serve the people of Forsyth and parts of Gwinnett County. I guarantee you that I'll put together a team that will get things done to the benefit of the people I serve. I've done that in the NFL. I've done that in business. I've done that in Georgia and I'll do that in Washington.
The next most important issue that goes along with the single thing is health care. And I'll tell you this right now, socialized medicine is not the answer. I would push members of Congress to stop posturing and get serious about getting government out of health care so that we can be competitive and flourish. That our kids and grandkids will have a future. And that one illness would not destroy us financially. And pre-existing conditions will be dealt with and accepted. Anyway, it's Joe Profit. I want to be your congressman and I approve this message. Thank you.”
Renee Unterman (R)
“Hello, I'm Renee Unterman and I'm running for Congress in Georgia's 7th District. Under the conservative leadership of President Trump and Governor Kemp, the economy in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties is hot and creating good jobs. That growth creates challenges, and as the representative for the 7th District I'll focus on solutions to maintain our prosperity and high quality of life by tackling traffic congestion, ending illegal immigration and replacing Obamacare with patient-centered solutions.
First: transportation. Our region suffers from some of the worst congestion in the nation. I'll make sure we bring back home the gas taxes that we pay in Georgia to build the infrastructure we need. On illegal immigration: I agree with President Trump. Let's build that wall.
Our district benefits from the talents of many immigrants who came here legally and are proud to be American patriots. I will fight to make sure everyone in our country comes here legally. And I'll work with the president to implement a merit-based immigration system that ensures immigrants have the skills they need in our workforce to support themselves and their families.
As a former nurse, I'm passionate about ensuring that Georgians get access to excellent health care. Let's replace Obamacare with patient-centered reforms that increase coverage while keeping a check on the cost of premiums. I'm Republican Renee Unterman. I have a proven, conservative record of getting things done for the people of Georgia and I'm excited about getting to work with President Trump to keep America great.”