Last month, a Democrat state legislator from Atlanta announced that she was switching her party affiliation to Republican, citing her support for school vouchers, CBS News reported.
With her defection, State Rep. Mesha Mainor became the only black member of the Republican Party in the Georgia legislature and the first black woman in history to serve as a Republican in the General Assembly.
In a press conference announcing her decision, Mainor said she was driven out of the Democrat Party for not aligning with party orthodoxy. She said she had been “publicly slandered” by Democrats who “relentlessly tried to sabotage” the work she has done for her Atlanta district.
Tensions between Mainor and Georgia Democrats reached a fever pitch earlier this year after she voted in favor of a school voucher bill proposed by Republicans. Despite school choice enjoying broad support among blacks, Democrats in the General Assembly reacted with scorn to Mailor’s support for the bill.
State Republican Party Chair Josh McKoon welcomed Mainor to the GOP, saying that her decision shows that “diversity of opinion” is welcomed in the Republican Party. He said the GOP is the party that allows different ideas and said the state party would support Mainor in her reelection bid.
Georgia’s Republican Speaker Jon Burns also celebrated Mainor’s switch, saying that she has joined “the party of opportunity.”
Georgia Democrat Party Chair Rep. Niema Williams blasted Mainor’s decision, describing it as a “stinging betrayal” of her predominantly Democrat constituents.
Williams said in a statement that Mainor’s district “deserves a representative” that will do what she is elected to do, namely “fight for high-quality public education.”
Mainor, who was first elected in 2020, represents District 56, a deep-blue district that includes Midtown Atlanta and parts of the city’s west side.
In her press conference, Mainor called on black Democrats to examine the party’s values.