Above all, Republican pride was on the ballot in Georgia. Across the counties and towns in the northern part of metro Atlanta, Democrats successfully flipped or held formerly Republican seats at every level of government. Many of the Democratic winners were first-time candidates. A lot of them didn’t fit the clichés of suburban southern voters. And almost all of them were women. These victories were made possible in large part because of Stacey Abrams, the longtime Georgia state representative who modeled the possible path to a majority for progressives with her narrowly unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial bid. Her work showed the dividends of fighting for state and local seats even in presumably red areas.
But many women have been fighting to turn Georgia blue. One of them, Jen Jordan, has been tilling these cul-de-sacs ever since she flipped a Republican state-Senate seat in a 2017 special election. For years, she told me, her part of Georgia was “a political wasteland for Democrats.” Recently, though, Democratic women have found a big reason to run. In the spring of 2019, the Georgia General Assembly considered H.B. 481, a ban on abortion once doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat, which can happen as early as six weeks after conception. Jordan, a petite blonde who speaks with the soft, rounded vowels of her home state, stood in all white before a Senate chamber filled with men and told the story of her 10 pregnancies and eight losses, including one after five months. She feared that even women who miscarry would face suspicion and prosecution under this law. It was a calculated trade: Jordan agreed to sacrifice her privacy and expose her pain in the hopes of persuading some of her colleagues to back off.