As reported by the AJC, Representative Regina Quick has decided to not run again for her seat, Georgia’s 117th House District, occupying parts of Barrow, Jackson, Clark, and Oconee counties. Instead, predecessor Doug Mckillip and newcomer Houston Gaines will challenge one another in the Republican primary and local attorney, Deborah Gonzalez will run on the Democratic ticket.
Georgians may remember my post about HB 51, primarily sponsored by Dean of the House Republican Caucus and Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman, Earl Ehrhart, this past session that Rep. Quick heavily defended. As a female, Republican, attorney, and someone who has the ability to be both intelligent and respectful in committee hearings, Quick was truly the best thing HB 51 had going for it. Yet the legislation was largely opposed by UGA students and ultimately was defeated in the General Assembly. However, carrying water for the longest serving Republican member of the Georgia House has its benefits, (along with Quick’s own legal chops) and Georgia may yet see her awarded a judgeship.
“Your honor” has a certain ring to it, I am sure.
This is not the first of Representative Quicks toils though, as she was the unifying factor between socially liberal voters opposed to McKillip’s 20 week abortion ban and more establishment Republicans in the area. A Liberty caucus member in the House, up until recently Quick represented her district well. The hippie Libertarian vibes in the Athens/ Oconee area were well matched with her representation and I’m sincerely sorry to see her go.
Athens and Oconee County are unique. Oconee has long been a Republican stronghold, as farmers and larger landholders occupied the more rural county. Watkinsville is larger than my small hometown, but tucked away enough that it is both welcoming and still has a small town feel. Situated next door to Athens, with the University and all its retail and restaurants, Oconee shies away from the often more progressive and out of the box minds of academia and younger folks found in the Classic City. She got parts of Jackson and Barrow counties as well, for good measure in her district. Here’s a district map, in case you need a visual. Keep in mind that Barrow hosts both House Appropriations Chairman England and the infamous Rep. Tommy Benton, of KKK fame. While solidly Republican, the parts making the whole may at some points be at cross purposes.
Houston Gaines has made a splash with his initial fundraising dollars- $66,000 in two weeks’ time is impressive
as are his strategic bi-partisan endorsements. Most impressive to me though is that if you also read The Flagpole article announcing his campaign, you will also find that his consultant is fellow UGA alum and past Deal Deputy Chief of Staff, Brian Robinson. Reading between the lines here, methinks that this kid has the establishment backing he needs to sail forward before he even sets out. He clearly has the ability to fundraise, if nothing else.
On a personal note, Houston also gives me newfound hope for the Republican Party in Georgia. His candidacy in the face of McKillips shows that the GOP is not willing to support extreme candidates. This is encouraging to me in that he both was a party switcher (from Democrat to Republican) and sponsored a rather draconian abortion bill (even by Georgia standards). Reading the tea leaves, Gaines’ candidacy tells me the establishment GOP does not trust McKillip and Gaines is the new Golden Boy from beloved Dawg Country.
In my mid-thirties now I have painfully watched how Georgia has moved from moderate conservatism in both the Republican and Democratic parties to more extreme views. The fallout from that shift has been a lack of funding for infrastructure and a general fear of the electorate even when it is absolutely imperative to act. While Robinson is unquestionably party oriented, he is not an extreme and this tells me more about Gaines than his SGA Presidency does.
Maybe I am placing too much credit on Robinson’s name, yet I will stick with my bellweather for the moment and say that McKillip (whether he recognizes it or not) is already measured for his political coffin.