Americus, Ga. has a competitive House race on their hands. Republican incumbent Mike Cheokas is facing Democrat and former Americus Mayor Bill McGowan.
Cheokas has held the HD 138 seat since being elected in 2004, but the race to keep the seat has gotten tight. Cheokas was originally elected as a Democrat, but, in 2010, followed the shift in power at the state house — and the impacts this would have on redistricting — and became a Republican (along with seven of his democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives).
The race for this seat has been tight in the past, particularly because there is a strong, liberal base in his district. In 2012, his Democratic challenger took 49.4 percent of the vote, losing by only 200 votes. As the Peach Pundit pointed out, Jason Carter, former State Senator and democratic candidate for Governor, actually won that district during the 2014 election cycle.
Rep. Cheokas faced controversy earlier this year over his support of several pro-confederate bills. He continued to support the bills, even after the lead sponsor, Rep. Tommy Benton defended the KKK, saying, there were “not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order.”
Cheokas tried to explain his continued support for the legislation: “I have constituents that have family members that participated in marches in the civil rights era,” he said. “That’s part of our history and a proud part of our history, but equally so I have constituents whose great-grandparents served in the confederacy. That’s part of our history as well.”
Because it’s okay to support racist ideologies and histories if they have a sentimental context?
Cheokas recently received the endorsement of Speakers of the House David Ralston. Ralston also endorsed Rep. Gerald Greene (R-Cuthbert), in an apparent effort to shore up the campaigns of two Republicans facing meaningful threats to their seats (for Greene, that comes in the form of Independent Kenneth Zachary).
Ralston and Cheokas both spoke in support of Gov. Nathan Deal’s controversial school takeover amendment proposal.
As Cheokas pointed out during a recent candidate forum, that is actually a key difference between himself and his opponent: McGowan supports public schools, Cheokas has been a vocal supporter of Gov. Deal’s takeover.
Cheokas has also been strongly aligned with Republicans in the legislature, voting for campus carry and the so-called “religious freedom” bills that were both ultimately vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Elections are November 8, 2016, with early voting available in many areas. Don’t forget to check out BG’s coverage of the many “down ballot” candidates and amendments not getting national coverage or SNL skits, but equally worthy of your attention.