Barack Obama endorses gay attorney in Georgia House race

Gay attorney Matthew Wilson received a surprise endorsement from former President Barack Obama in his bid to unseat a Republican incumbent in the House District 80 race in Brookhaven.

Wilson was among 81 candidates nationwide that Obama endorsed on Wednesday.

Among Georgia candidates, he also endorsed former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in her race for governor against Secretary of State Brian Kemp, businesswoman Sarah Riggs Amico in her race for lieutenant governor against former state Rep. Geoff Duncan, and social worker Shelly Hutchinson in her race for the House District 107 seat in Lilburn against paralegal Janet Mihoci.

“Today I’m proud to endorse such a wide and impressive array of Democratic candidates – leaders as diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted as the America they’re running to represent,” Obama said on Twitter.

Wilson told Project Q Atlanta that he was “not at all” expecting Obama’s endorsement.

“Obviously I’m very honored that President Obama recognized the strength of our campaign and how House District 80 is turning purple,” he said. “We have a strong campaign plan to win this in November, and having his attention certainly helps us. It’s an exciting day.”

Wilson also tweeted about the news, saying, “How cool is this? Thank you for your support and continued service, Mr. President. Let’s go win this!”

Wilson faces state Rep. Meagan Hanson, a Republican, in the November election. Hanson introduced an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes measure in this year’s legislative session. Language from that bill was tacked onto another bill, but it failed to pass before session’s end.

Anti-transgender tweets authored by Hanson emerged in the final days of her 2016 contest against Democratic incumbent Rep. Taylor Bennett, an LGBTQ ally whose mother and sister are gay. Hanson narrowly defeated Bennett 50.52 percent to 49.48 percent.

As of the last available campaign disclosure report on June 31, Hanson raised $73,000 and had $62,000 left on hand. Wilson raised $95,000 and had $69,000 left on hand.