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Democratic representative’s move could prompt school choice passage in Georgia

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(The Center Square) — Could a state lawmaker’s jump from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party lead to the passage of school choice in Georgia?

Rep. Mesha Mainor of Atlanta announced her intention Tuesday to switch to the Republican Party, drawing expected responses from her new and old parties.

During this year’s legislative session, Mainor voted in favor of Senate Bill 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, a measure other Democrats and some Republicans opposed. It would have created state-funded education savings accounts.

“Our state and nation would be far better off if there were more principled lawmakers like Rep. Mainor around,” Buzz Brockway, the Georgia Center for Opportunity’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement to The Center Square when asked what the move means for school choice. “She has prioritized the best interests of her constituents, especially those who are impoverished and reside in zoned zip codes with limited educational options.

“Rep. Mainor’s decision is reflective of a growing national movement in favor of educational opportunity — the most recent example being a poll showing that 71% of Americans support the concept of school choice,” Buzz Brockway added. “Crucially, 73% of African Americans and 66% of Democrats back school choice as well.

“We commend Rep. Mainor for her bravery and integrity as we build a future where every child has access to an excellent education.”

The Democratic Party of Georgia derided Mainor for the move, saying they hope to elect a representative “who will serve the people, not personal political ambitions.”

“Rep. Mesha Mainor’s switch to the GOP is a stinging betrayal of her constituents, who elected a Democrat to represent them in the state legislature,” DPG Chair Congresswoman Nikema Williams said in a statement. “House District 56 deserves a representative who will do the job they were elected to do, including [fighting] for high-quality public education.”

In a statement, Georgia Republican Party Chairman Josh McKoon called the move “a historic day for Georgia Republicans,” saying the party “stands for empowering parents to be advocates for giving their children the best education possible” and “that every Georgia deserves to feel safe at home, at work, and in school; and to have the economic opportunity to build better lives.”

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