ATLANTA — One of the most-watched congressional races in America is in Atlanta’s suburbs. CNN has ranked Georgia’s 7th District as among the districts in the nation most likely to flip from Republican to Democratic in November.
The district's current congressman -- Republican Rob Woodall -- is retiring.
Republican Rich McCormick’s campaign pages are full of tough-guy videos -- showing him doing pushups with his volunteers, showing up doing pushups while upside down, depicting him playing rugby against hapless opponents.
McCormick is an emergency room physician and an ex-Marine who backs President Donald Trump and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think we’ve provided enormous resources to the public and then pushed it down to state control," McCormick said in an interview.
Yet, during a debate last week, McCormick never mentioned Trump as he faced off against his opponent, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux.
She nearly won the congressional seat two years ago. She has campaigned in the district, rooted in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. Gwinnett supported Democrat Stacey Abrams in the race for governor two years ago.
Bourdeaux, a college professor and the mother of a grade-school child, says the pandemic is the top issue with voters.
"There has been this concerted effort by both the president and my opponent to downplay this pandemic," Bourdeaux said. "And now we have 220,000 Americans who are dead because of it."
This week, 14th Congressional District Republican candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene endorsed McCormick in a tweet. Greene is the unopposed Congressional candidate in northwest Georgia, who has talked up a shadowy right-wing entity called QAnon.
Unlike US Sen. Kelly Loeffler, McCormick did not engineer a press conference announcing Greene’s support. Bourdeaux says he didn’t have to.
"This was an effort to kind of 'dog whistle' to those voters," Bourdeaux said of the low-key endorsement of McCormick.
McCormick has appeared on a Youtube channel called the Patriot Soapbox, which reportedly talks up QAnon conspiracies.
"As far as QAnon, I’m not really sure what that means. I don’t really follow what Marjorie does. I don’t follow what any other congressman does, really," McCormick said on Wednesday. "Everybody says it’s this thing, it’s a conspiracy theory. But I kind of laugh. Because I think it’s a conspiracy theory to think that because I’ve appeared on a radio station, that I support something that I don’t even understand."
"It’s pretty clear that their ideas are very closely aligned," Bourdeaux countered, referring to Greene and McCormick.
In her tweet, Greene described Bourdeaux as "a radical communist college professor" who "is horrible and has never accomplished anything."
McCormick's spokesman John Simpson, in a statement written weeks ago, said "it's awful that Ms. Greene would peddle in such a horrific anti-Semitic conspiracy."