Georgia Republican convicted in Jan. 6 riot walks out during televised congressional primary debate

A Georgia congressional candidate convicted of a misdemeanor for illegally demonstrating contained in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, walked out of a televised debate with a fellow Republican on Sunday forward of a June 18 main runoff.

It was the most recent risky flip in southwest Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District, the place Chuck Hand and Wayne Johnson are competing for the GOP nomination to tackle 16-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop in November.

Hand is one in every of no less than 4 folks convicted of Jan. 6 crimes running for Congress this 12 months, all as Republicans. He was sentenced to twenty days in federal jail and 6 months of probation.

Initially of a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Membership, Hand stated he was refusing to debate Johnson after Michael Nixon, who completed third within the four-way Might 21 main, gave a information convention final month endorsing Johnson.

Nixon introduced up a 2005 prison trespass cost and a 2010 DUI cost in opposition to Hand, each of which had been dismissed. Nixon additionally cited federal court documents to argue Hand’s participation within the Jan. 6 riot was extra severe than Hand had claimed.

“That is the place I get again in my truck and return to southwest Georgia as a result of I’ve obtained two races to win,” Hand stated, strolling out of the studio whereas cameras had been rolling.

“You’re not staying?” requested anchor Donna Lowry. “You’re leaving, sir? OK.”

“Wow, I don’t even know the way to react,” Johnson stated.

Johnson, an official within the U.S. Schooling Division through the Donald Trump administration, stated Hand’s exit is extra proof that Hand isn’t match to be the Republican nominee.

“I wish to assume that Chuck Hand’s departure, the best way by which he did it as we speak, was his withdrawal from the race,” Johnson advised reporters afterward. “Nevertheless it definitely ought to trigger folks to pause and take into consideration why he did it and what he was attempting to get by doing it.”

After Hand walked out of the talk, he answered questions from reporters for almost 20 minutes, saying he believed Johnson had helped orchestrate the assaults by Nixon. Hand was notably essential that Nixon introduced up the sooner conviction of his spouse for unlawful sale of oxycodone.

“It’s completely high quality to assault me as a candidate. I count on that. However to return out and publicly assault my spouse, that’s a very totally different state of affairs,” Hand stated. “My spouse had paid her debt to society lengthy earlier than I ever met her.”

He attacked Johnson for not dwelling within the bounds of the district, which isn’t required for congressional candidates.

A building superintendent who lives in rural Butler, Hand once more portrayed himself as main a working-class motion to enhance financial situations in one of many poorest elements of Georgia. Hand stated he would rally Black and white employees beneath the banner of Donald Trump. Hand has disdained the normal formal gown of political candidates all through the marketing campaign, sporting a blue denim shirt and a Caterpillar baseball cap on Sunday.

Johnson received nearly 45% of the vote in the May 21 primary whereas Hand received nearly 32%. As a result of nobody received a majority, voters will resolve the nominee in a runoff. Early in-person voting begins Monday forward of the June 18 election.

“Cash isn’t going to win this election, coronary heart will, voters will,” Hand stated. The coalition that we constructed on the bottom over these years goes to win this election. It’s the grassroots activists on the bottom which have completed the prep work which are going to win in November. America first? I’m your 2nd District First candidate.”

Johnson has staked out a extra reasonable place, saying any Republican who hopes to beat Bishop must do extra to attraction to the largely Black Democrats who’ve supported the longtime incumbent. He stated through the debate he doesn’t again proposed Republican cuts to the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program, often known as meals stamps.

“We’re going to have to hold 50,000 those that usually vote Democrat throughout to vote Republican,” Johnson advised reporters after the talk. “And that’s going to be mainly based mostly on: ‘Are you able to show to people, are you able to exhibit to people forward of time that you simply truly could make their lives higher?’”

Johnson dismissed Hand’s assaults on him for dwelling simply exterior the district in Macon, saying he has invested in companies within the district and would transfer to a home he owns in Plains, Jimmy Carter’s hometown, if elected.

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