Face of anti-gay ‘religious freedom’ effort loses election

The face of Georgia’s "religious freedom" legislation fell, an anti-LGBT "dancing preacher" almost pulled off a shocking upset, and a state lawmaker who suggested quarantining people with HIV kept her seat in primary elections on Tuesday.

State Sen. Josh McKoon (top photo) was a favorite to win the Republican nomination for secretary of state, but he fell to third in the four-man race and missed a runoff by nearly 40,000 votes. David Belle Isle and Brad Raffensperger will face off for the post in July, with the winner facing former U.S. Rep. John Barrow, who narrowly won the Democratic nomination outright on Tuesday.

McKoon became the face of anti-LGBT “religious freedom” legislation over the past five years in the legislature, but any substantial such bills failed to pass. McKoon has also trolled LGBT Georgians for years, tried to retaliate against LGBT-friendly businesses and called the medical needs of transgender military members "absurd."

It’s unclear what McKoon will do next but don’t expect him to go away anytime soon. He’s young (39), ambitious and, despite Tuesday’s results, does have a base of support.

Here's a rundown of races with ties to LGBT issues.

 

A shocking upset was almost pulled off in Stone Mountain, as self-described “dancing preacher” Sabrina McKenzie (photo) nearly defeated Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson in District 41. Henson won by just around 100 votes out of nearly 14,000 votes cast.

Supporters of Henson compiled a background paper on McKenzie earlier this month that detailed numerous anti-LGBTQ views she expressed on Twitter and in YouTube videos. The opposition research was provided to Project Q Atlanta. McKenzie responded by saying “I love homosexuals” and mentioning she had a gay brother. 

McKenzie’s near-win is even more embarrassing for Henson taking into account the fundraising disparities — McKenzie raised a mere $3,550 while Henson had an over $200,000 stockpile to campaign with.

 

In other metro Atlanta news, Ginny Ehrhart will go to a runoff against Thomas Gray in the House District 36 GOP race in Powder Springs. If she wins, Ehrhart will replace her husband Earl, a virulently anti-LGBT legislator who retired from the post earlier this year.

An Ehrhart win would pit her against Jen Slipakoff, a Democrat who serves as a PFLAG co-president and sits on the Atlanta Steering Committee for the Human Rights Campaign. Of note — she has a transgender daughter, further drawing a disparity between Slipakoff and any Ehrhart’s candidacy. Earl Ehrhart mocked trans people from the House floor in 2017, one of many incidents on a long anti-LGBT record. 

 

Expect to see more of state Rep. Betty Price (photo). The Roswell legislator (and wife to former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price) last year suggested during a House study committee that people living with HIV should be quarantined. She refused calls to apologize, saying her “provocative and rhetorical” comments were misconstrued.

Price beat ex-Roswell Mayor Jere Wood by more than 25 points on Tuesday and will face Democrat Mary Robichaux in November.

 

Former state Sen. David Shafer (photo) will head to a runoff against former Rep. Geoff Duncan in the GOP race for lieutenant governor. Shafer was co-sponsor of a bill earlier this year that would have allowed faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to ban LGBT people — one of several times he has pushed anti-LGBT legislation as the Senate’s No. 2 official.

The winner of the Shafer-Duncan runoff will face Sarah Riggs Amico, who outlasted Triana Arnold James in the Democratic race for lieutenant governor. Amico nabbed endorsements from both Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats.

In the 7th Congressional District primary, Georgia State Professor Carolyn Bourdeaux and publisher David Kim outlasted four other candidates and will go to a July runoff to see who takes on incumbent Republican Rob Woodall in November. The district covers parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.

And in the Athens-based 10th District, registered nurse Tabitha Johnson-Green barely crossed the 50-percent-plus-one-vote threshold to win the Democratic nomination outright. Johnson-Green will have a tough fight in November as she takes on Republican incumbent Jody Hice — an extremely anti-LGBT lawmaker.