Earlier this week, Georgia Democrat Stacy Abrams announced that she would forgo a challenge to incumbent Senator David Perdue (R-GA). Abrams, who lost a close race to be Georgia’s governor last year, was considered a top Democrat recruit to take on Perdue but had spent the first several months of the year declining to make a decision on her candidacy.
While Abrams contemplated her political future, Teresa Tomlinson, the former mayor of Columbus, Georgia, formed a Senate exploratory committee to prepare for a run in the event that Abrams declined. On Wednesday, just one day after Abrams’ final decision became public, Tomlinson made her Senate bid official.
While most political forecasters believe Perdue to have the edge in his reelection bid, the thin margin in last year’s governor’s race has given Democratic operatives hope they can finally win this Senate seat. Tomlinson has generated interest from top Democrats as a next-best-option after Abrams, and she has reportedly already met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). And while other potential candidates could still enter the race, Tomlinson has the early advantage out of the gate.
AR/Intel Insiders: For a full list of other possible Senate candidates, news archives, and additional analysis, check out the new Georgia Senate Race Brief.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson
Although she doesn’t have the same national name recognition as Abrams, Tomlinson served as Mayor of Columbus, the third most populous city in the state, for eight years (2011-2019). During her first election, Tomlinson campaigned aggressively on reducing crime in Columbus and focused on government efficiency and accountability. Although she did not garner the majority needed to win in the general election, she won the runoff several weeks later with 68 percent of the vote.
One of the most controversial proposals backed by Tomlinson during her mayoral tenure came in 2016, when she supported a referendum to end the city’s “tax freeze.” Enacted in 1982, the policy froze the assessed value of a home after purchase, “so its fair-market value for taxation never changed, as long as the same owner lived there.” The policy was popular with Columbus voters, however, as they soundly defeated the measure 62 to 38 percent.
Trial Lawyer Teresa Tomlinson
Tomlinson is best known for her tenure as mayor, but she has worked as an attorney for most of her career. After graduating from Emory University School of Law in 1991, Tomlinson began working at Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison and Norwood, LLP in Atlanta. Tomlinson spent 16 years with the firm, eventually becoming an equity partner before she left in 2007. Tomlinson’s legal career primarily focused on civil litigation, and among others, she handled cases involving product liability, wrongful death, and breach of contract.
Former Republican to Progressive Candidate Teresa Tomlinson
Growing up, Tomlinson identified as a Republican. She served as the chairwoman of the Young Republican Club during her time at Sweet Briar College and has gone on record talking about the contributions she gave to Republicans in the 1990s. In fact, in 2009, Tomlinson gave $500 to former Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).
Earlier this month, however, Tomlinson described herself as a “proud progressive,” and her positions on key Democratic issues appear to indicate she no longer aligns with Republican viewpoints. She opposed the Republican tax cuts passed in 2017, calling them a “con,” despite estimations that the law will add 43,799 full-time jobs in Georgia by 2015. She has defended ObamaCare and said it was “unconscionable” that Medicaid was not expanded in Georgia. Tomlinson has also gone on record defending the Green New Deal, a progressive environmental proposal estimated to cost as much as $93 trillion over the next 10 years. During an interview earlier this month, Tomlinson expressed confidence in her ability to explain the benefits of the plan and argued that the plan was only viewed as radical because “Republicans are allowed to own the microphone.”
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