ATLANTA, GEORGIA — In 2016, Lucy McBath crisscrossed the country on the campaign trail as one of Hillary Clinton’s “Mothers of the Movement” speaking out against gun violence.
Alongside other grieving mothers, she spoke to voters about how her son, Jordan Davis, had been shot and killed at 17 years old when a white man complained he was playing his music too loudly. Clinton, she said, would be the only candidate to stand up to the gun lobby and to help prevent more tragedies.
This year, she’s on the campaign trail again, sending the same message for herself.
McBath is running for Congress in Georgia’s sixth district, the seat that Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly lost in the closely-watched special election last year that turned out to be the most expensive House race ever. While Ossoff failed to flip the seat, McBath said she believes she’ll be successful in November by sharing her experiences with gun violence.
“No one’s immune to gun violence, so it’s critical for me tell my story,” she told ThinkProgress from a campaign event outside Atlanta. “It’s critical for people to understand and know that yes, I’m just like you, and I’ve had to overcome, and I’m fearful for the future and what it holds for my family and my nieces and nephews just like you. And It’s important for you to know that I have overcome and I intend to challenge and fight for what’s right for you in Washington.”
McBath, an African American woman and a former Delta flight attendant, talks about how she never thought she would go into politics. When her son was killed in 2012, however, her life took a turn, and she began working with gun safety organizations like Moms Demand Action. After the Parkland shooting, she decided running for office was the next step. She said that making that decision this year, when there’s an unprecedented number of women running for office, felt right.
“You look at the political climate now, we have an unprecedented number of women that are telling their stories,” she said. “We have an unprecedented number of minority women that are telling their stories. When we tell our stories, we’re talking to the heart of people that we live among every single day. We’re not just numbers and statistics and people that are just trying to make our way into the political process and become politicians. We really care.”
Ossoff, who campaigned for McBath on a recent Saturday afternoon, told ThinkProgress he believes McBath’s experiences will resonate in the district he now knows well.
“I think she’s got an incredibly inspiring story,” he said. “I think she’s been through so much and she’s come out the other side, and I think it really resonates for people to see a candidate who understands personally what it’s like to deal with obstacles. She’s a two-time breast cancer survivor, her son was murdered in cold blood, and instead of despairing, here she is stepping up and putting herself out there.”
Her opponent holds a slight lead in recent polls, but McBath raised nearly twice as much money as Handel did in the last quarter, according to new fundraising numbers released by her campaign. McBath is drawing support from gun safety advocates across the country, while NRA has largely scaled back its political contributions this election cycle.
“That’s a win,” she said. “Any time the voices that are speaking against gun violence are louder than the voices that are speaking for more guns, that’s a win.”
Still, McBath faces a challenge in gun-loving Georgia. The state doesn’t require any special license or registration to purchase a firearm, and in recent years, Republican lawmakers have made it even easier to possess firearms in the state. McBath advocated against a campus carry law that went into effect last July.
But Georgia is changing rapidly and McBath is counting on the same shifting demographics that Democrat Stacey Abrams hopes will send her to the governor’s mansion.
“If we’ve learned anything in this election season, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts told the Huffington Post. “You can’t even let these elections be predicted by polls. It’s about momentum and voter energy ― she has that.”
If she does win, Ossoff said he is grateful for the role his 2017 race will play into a victory.
“With all due humility, I do think my campaign last year demonstrated that Democratic candidates can compete somewhere where that was thought to be impossible,” he said.
“If I can look back on my campaign last year and see that I’ve helped build a platform for a candidate like Lucy McBath to work in Congress, then I’ll be the all prouder of my campaign.”