Georgia Democrats are looking to flip the House District 111 seat in Henry County just South of Atlanta, currently held by Rep. Brian Strickland, the two-term Republican seeking re-election.
Darryl Payton is Strickland’s Democratic challenger. Payton’s campaign launch party was attended by former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, Democratic darling Rep. Taylor Bennett, and Rep. Sandra Scott from neighboring Clayton County.
Leader Abrams spoke at Payton’s launch party, the AJC reports.
“Henry County is following other metro-Atlanta counties in its changing political identity,” Abrams said. “Small business owner Darryl Payton will be a welcome addition to the Capitol, joining our fight against those who would deny rights to others through the bigotry of ‘religious freedom’ and harm Georgia’s business climate. We are excited by his campaign and our opportunity to win this vulnerable seat.”
Payton’s social media is centered on his support for Medicaid expansion and opposition to Gov. Nathan Deal’ school takeover plan (the Opportunity School District amendment). Local news reports Henry County’s Board of Education is considering a resolution opposing the OSD amendment, indicating Payton’s anti-OSD views might gain a lot of traction in his district. Meanwhile, 14.5 percent of residents under the age of 65 — or one in seven residents — in Henry County do not have health insurance, putting it on par with the state-wide average of 13.9 percent.
Rep. Strickland, the current HD 111 seat holder, was the sponsor of a “religious freedom”-style bill that threatened the funding of any school that, “prohibits religious expression on clothing of student athletes.” He was also behind one of these “prevent fraud and abuse” measures, designed to strip more people of access to unemployment benefits.
Henry County’s population is 42 percent African American, according to the most recent census estimates. However, all three districts centered on Henry county are represented by white men — Republicans including Rep. Strickland, Rep. Andy Welch, and Rep. Dale Rutledge.