Q & A with Holly McCormack, Democratic hopeful for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District

Holly McCormick smiling in short sleeve shirt on rural road bordered by wooden fencesHolly McCormick (photos courtesy of the McCormick campaign)

By Arielle Robinson

Holly McCormack, a Democrat who seeks to unseat Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, answered questions from the Courier about herself and her campaign.

The election primary is Tuesday, May 24, while the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Talk about your background. Who are you and why did you decide to become involved in politics?

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“I’ve lived in northwest Georgia for most of my life. I did grow up an Army brat, so we moved around a lot when I was little. When Daddy got out of the Army, we came back home to the area. I have a husband and two kids that are not kids anymore, they’re teenagers. We’ve lived in Ringgold for over the past 10 years and I’m a small business owner, too. I really never saw myself getting into politics, but then Marge was successfully elected, ran unopposed at the end there. That really was very personal to me, so I really started looking at how I could help more, and get more involved in the community. Of course, that’s a huge jump from phone banking and marching and community service, but that’s the spot that needed help.

“After that, a few months later, we were able to help elect [Jon] Ossoff and [Raphael] Warnock and send them to D.C. but then the very next day, we didn’t even get to enjoy it, because then the insurrection happened. It really just solidified to me this is not America, this is not how we behave. And so it really just was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Even though I’m just a mom of teenagers, just a working mom, small business owner, that’s when I said I’ve got to do something. That’s what had me start to run and jump into politics. We really need — unlike our current representative — representation that leads with empathy and inclusion, not hate and exclusion.”

How do you think your background has prepared you to become a Congress member?

“My background has prepared me not just to be a member of Congress, but specifically to represent this district. I know our problems because I’ve lived our struggles. I currently live our struggles. I come from a family of veterans. I’ve been without health insurance, as a small business owner. I’ve struggled to afford childcare.

“I know what struggles families here in northwest Georgia are facing because my family has faced them and continues to. It’s hard for someone to represent us that has never dealt with what most of the families have, and I definitely have.”

Off the top of your head, what are three top issues you see affecting residents within the 14th district and how would you aim to fix them?

“Well, access to affordable childcare. Just like I mentioned, we need not just affordable childcare, but access to more childcare options. And Georgia 14, it’s a childcare desert in two-thirds of the district. Even if you can afford it, finding a space for your child at a daycare is nearly impossible. In Congress, I’ll fight for increased childcare funding, especially in our rural communities. Bringing back the child tax credit, the Senate failed to pass that to keep the child tax credit coming to families, and my husband and I, we immediately felt that void that has been helping us in the last six months of the year to pay a couple bills. It immediately was felt by families around here.

“Second, veterans’ health care. Right now, our veterans in the district — you’re in Cobb, so you guys are right there, near Atlanta — but in a lot of the district, it’s really spread out. And so closer to where I’m at, people have to go to Tennessee to get to your veterans’ hospital. Their kids or other family members have to take off work to take their parents to these hospitals, in some places, that are two hours away or more. I will fight to fund the construction of a veterans’ hospital here in-district.

“And, obviously, affordable internet. Whether it’s in the rural areas, like a lot of our district, or even in the city, we have to have more affordable internet. Back when the lockdown happened in the pandemic, my business went 100 percent online with Zoom and both my kids came home to do school. We had to get a second line run through the house so that it could support all of that. That’s not affordable, most families here can’t afford to do that. I’ll fight for access to affordable internet and broadband.”

How do you feel about Georgia’s economic and medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

“We can absolutely handle this a lot better. We should be continuing to encourage as many of our neighbors as possible to get vaccinated and to mask up. Our district has seen too many infections and too many deaths and our current rep has done nothing but exacerbate this with her disinformation. The only way she’s addressed the pandemic is by spreading lies online, leading to her Twitter ban and continues to waste the tax dollars of those who sent her to Congress.

“Our leaders need to lead by example, rather than claiming that masks and vaccines don’t work, putting a huge population — especially our children who cannot receive the vaccine yet — at extreme risk. I am, however, grateful [for] the CARES Act and the money that has been invested in our district to address not only the health crisis but economic crisis. But our district still has a long way to go.”

Republican lawmakers in the states have passed laws loosening gun-carrying restrictions, also known as constitutional carry. They say it can deter crime. Do you support constitutional carry? Why or why not?

“I support the Second Amendment. I believe in protecting the rights of everyday Georgians to protect themselves and those they love. However, guns too often fall into the wrong hands. I don’t think any gun owner wants to see those guns fall into the hands of a violent or abusive individual. While the vast majority of gun owners are responsible, we must pass common-sense gun laws that protect everyone from detrimental outcomes that happen when the guns fall into the wrong hands.”

The Supreme Court has recently decided that a Texas law banning abortion after 6 weeks and allowing private citizens to sue someone helping a pregnant person seeking an abortion canstay in place, but abortion providers can challenge the ruling in federal court. Many believe this ruling paves the way for more states — including Georgia with its attempted“heartbeat” bill— to enact laws restricting abortion and ultimately, the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Would you support tighter measures on abortion?

“I got pregnant with my son at 18 years old, and it was my choice to decide to have him. I made that choice, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But it’s not a decision I can imagine someone else making for me. Deciding to become a mother is one of the most, if not the most, important decisions a woman can make and that should be a choice that is a personal one.”

What is your view on Black Lives Matter protests and police/criminal justice reform?

“That’s when I got more involved in community work and activism, was back with Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We need to truly live up to our call for equal justice under the law, and minority communities are being impacted by our inability to live up to this core promise.

“I’d like to be clear, though, I do not, and will not support defunding our public safety professionals. It doesn’t have to be such a controversial topic. It’s all about resources, putting them into our communities so that we can break this cycle. That’s what it’s about. I will work across the aisle to ensure that our public safety professionals have the training and the tools necessary, not just to protect, but create trust with our communities. I think if we’re also putting resources and investing in those communities, then it will stop a lot of what’s going on there.”

There have been many stories in the news about worker shortages, but perhaps not as many stories about the reasons why millions of Americans quit their jobs in record numbers last fall, including many Georgians. Many who quit cited poor treatment and pay at their workplace. What would you do as a US Representative to improve working people’s economic conditions so that they return to work?

“Many people have left their jobs but it doesn’t mean that those people have stopped working. Many people are seeking better opportunities where they feel they’re valued, and they have purpose in their work, and they’re paid a living wage. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I love the entrepreneurial spirit, that’s me.

“We’ve also seen mass numbers of parents, especially women, leave their jobs since 2020. Between daycare and school closures, women ended up being the mass majority of those who had to leave the workforce to stay home with their kids. While some have hired nannies or leaned on family members, many of us don’t have that luxury to do so.

“A lot of grandparents are still of working age. Heck, both sides of all of my kids’ grandparents are still working. I’m an example of not having that [luxury]. But even before the pandemic, many families in our district couldn’t afford childcare, so the decision had to be made to stay home with their kids.

“By investing in affordable childcare, in addition to getting vaccinated and getting our kids back to school, we can open the door for mothers to return to the workforce and help their families survive and thrive. It also means that we revitalize our economy for it to be one where people make a living wage, have access to insurance, and can pay their bills. Working families shouldn’t have to struggle to get by, they should have the tools they need to thrive.”

What is your view on environmental issues?

“Investing in resilient climate infrastructure is a key part of my rural revival plan. Climate change is a real and serious threat, especially here in northwest Georgia. Over the years, we’ve seen the detrimental impact storms and natural disasters have had on our communities.

“My home here in Ringgold, a large part of it was just wiped out from the tornadoes years ago. Here in northwest Georgia, we even lack necessities such as storm sirens — there are only four in our entire district, which is just crazy. We need to invest in 21st-century storm warning systems that help us prepare for floods, tornadoes, and other environmental disasters.

“I also support the climate initiatives of Build Back Better to help us build this climate-resilient infrastructure in our rural communities. Not to even mention the jobs that would be created in green jobs.”

What is your view on education?

“I attended public schools, and I send my kids to public school here in Ringgold. We have great public schools and particularly great public school teachers here in northwest Georgia and Lord, do we know it, the last year or two with a pandemic. I was very, very glad when my kids could get vaccinated and I could send them back to teachers because I have huge respect for what the teachers are doing.

“But there’s still more that could be done to invest in our kids and their education. The most immediate concern I think we have all seen over the last two years is access to broadband internet in the rural communities. Like I said before, we had to get a second line run out to our house and most people can’t afford to do that and they just shouldn’t have to. This is just basic equipment for our kids to have the capacity to attend class, do their homework, and research topics they’re learning about in the classroom.

“But we also need to look at the before and after of their time in schools. This begins with investing in early childhood education and ends with investing in opportunities for our kids post-graduation. A four-year degree is not the right path for all kids. But we can make community college and trade and apprenticeship programs more accessible and affordable.

“As a small business owner, and someone with that entrepreneurial spirit, I think that creating those types of programs are so important at a young age. I was not taught any of it and I had to figure that out as an adult and I just can’t imagine what a difference it would have made in my life if I had learned it early on.”

What are your views on SB 202, the voting law which critics on the left say will restrict voting rights for historically marginalized communities?

“SB 202 was just another tool in the voter suppression toolkit. Voting is a key right we should be protecting access to, regardless of party affiliation or agenda. As Americans, we should fight for as many people to have access to the ballot as possible.

“We don’t get to pick and choose which voters we think will agree with us. That’s not how democracy works. SB 202 particularly aims to suppress minority voices in our state, as well as working-class voters. These bills just keep popping up in more states across the country. This just leads people to lose even more faith in their government and discourages participation. People lose trust in the system when it’s rigged from the beginning, and this is why in my campaign we are focusing so much on voter registration even before the primary.

“We’ve got a lot that people are up against with SB 202 and then redistricting and everything like that, so we really are reaching out to as many unregistered voters as possible. We’ve invested in targeting and mailing to those people and then following up with staff and organizers and volunteers, calling them and making sure that they get registered from that back end. We’re up against a lot. We need as many people to have their voices heard.”

Do you think the 2020 presidential election was a free and fair election?

“Yes, it was. Regardless of political party our election showed democracy at its best. It’s been proven that this election was secure. The votes were counted and recounted numerous times.”

How would you characterize the people who overran the US Capitol last January 6th?

“The people who attacked the Capitol call themselves patriots, and they’re the furthest thing from that word. They didn’t just try to overturn a result, they tried to overturn our democracy. Our congresswoman continues to support these individuals and advocate for them more than she advocates for her own constituents.”

Would you have voted to certify the election of Joe Biden?

“Absolutely, yes, because Joe Biden was elected by the American people, and the people of Georgia. That was the legal Democratic vote, so that should have been certified by every member of Congress.”

The 14th Congressional District has recently been changed so that Austell and Powder Springs — two majority Black and Democrat-leaning suburban cities in Cobb County have been added to the mostly white, rural, conservative areas of the 14th. How do you economically and socially appeal to rural, conservative voters while also appealing to suburban, liberal voters?

“First of all, I’m so happy to have these guys in the district now. I think regardless of who I’m representing, I’ll lead the same way with empathy and respect, an open mind and open ears.

“Listening to people and what they need is the most important thing I can do to effectively represent everyone in the district. I always say I meet people on both sides of the aisle. When it comes down to it, we all really want the same thing — to keep a roof over our heads, keep food on the table, to make sure our children have the best opportunities we can give them, and to care for those around us.

“Whether or not I have differences with folks and whether or not they vote for me, I’ll still be there to listen and to serve them. From the beginning, long before redistricting, we had focused on how we’re more alike than we are different. There are struggles in education and providing for our kids and being able to afford childcare and opportunities. Those are all the same things.”

How do you feel about transportation issues in the district?

“Transportation is a key initiative of my campaign. We need to revitalize rural transportation and create more opportunities for those in-district to travel outside of the district or to other ends of the district, whether that is for work, or to go to the doctor, or for whatever reason.

“This is why I support the proposed Amtrak expansion and will continue to advocate for a stop here in the district.

“But what we need in the rest of the district isn’t necessarily what we need in Cobb. Cobb is part of the Atlanta metro area, so it is strange that Cobb has not been a part of this transit system. I’m looking forward to listening to more Cobb residents on their thoughts on the expansion and taking action in Congress to make their transportation needs a priority.”

What is your view on healthcare issues in Georgia and what would you do to improve them?

“Lack of access to affordable quality health care is an issue many Americans face but this problem is exacerbated in our rural communities. I’ve already discussed some of the barriers for our veterans and what they face, but this is something that affects so many people in our district.

“I’ve gone years without health insurance, and have had to face those tough decisions — am I going to buy prescriptions or get groceries? Am I sick enough to justify paying cash to go to the doctor? That’s crazy and that’s decisions that no Georgian and no American should ever have to face.

“The pandemic only made these choices worse. Medicaid expansion is a nice first step, but not where we should stop. Access to affordable health care should be a priority for every member of Congress. Even though we had the Affordable Care Act and then the Medicaid expansion so that people could take advantage of it, I still wasn’t able to. So, there’s a lot of changes that need to be made.”

Can you talk a little about your endorsers/donors and how much your campaign has raised so far?

“My campaign ended 2021 with over $1.25 million raised with $650,000 of that in the year’s final quarter. We’ve raised donations from all 50 states, as well as Americans living abroad. We’ve mobilized over 45,000 donors with an average donation of $30, so we are truly a grassroots small-dollar campaign run by everyday people, which I love.

“Before my campaign, I was only able to do small dollar amounts recurring to our Georgia senators, to our president and so I know how important that is, and I know what a sacrifice it is for those people. I just I love it, I’m so grateful for so many people throwing in behind us and that believe that regular people, regular working-class people, can run for office and make a difference.

“I just had a check come — $10.40 — and he put in a very thoughtful letter with some issues that are very, very important to him and this man is on disability, blind. That $10.40 cent check means so, so much. He can feel that, that was a sacrifice for him to send. And that’s a lot of our donors. And I’m just so grateful and proud.

“The greatest support is right here on the ground in Georgia. We’re grateful to all the support here at home from our young voters, veterans, small business owners, mothers, and even bikers clubs. The money raised around the country allows us the opportunity to do more here in the district and to start helping my constituents even before I take office.

“This is a really important part of our campaign that I’ve heard is not how typical political campaigns are run. It means a lot to me personally, and this is like you asked earlier how we’re going to be able to reach the conservative folks and the more liberal people — that they believe that I’m for them because we show up in action before I’m elected. And not to mention, because we’re doing the community work I’m able to talk to them, to continue listening for what’s important to them.”

How are you reaching out to voters to get your message heard?

“There’s so many different ways to reach out to unique segments of voters. We’re utilizing several digital tools — social media, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok — my teenagers are mortified by that one, Mom on TikTok, which is hilarious. We have a robust email and text program. We’re utilizing volunteers to phone bank and help us register new voters, like I mentioned earlier.

“Our platform and details of the rural revival plan are on my website. Most importantly, we’re out in the district. That’s what’s really going to make a difference. Speaking at county party meetings and events, of course, volunteering with food banks that were able to help my family when we got really tight and we were going through a crisis as a family, churches talking with childcare providers and veterans. And above all, like I said, listening. I’ve got my ideas for how we can improve, but preaching my message to voters isn’t what we need. More than anything, voters want their concerns heard. So, that’s what we’re doing.”

What makes you the best person to represent the 14th district?

“Back to our food bank experience just a few weeks ago, I was speaking to the lady that owns that and runs it and she has such a servant’s heart. We were talking while we were handing out the boxes, and she said, ‘how can somebody represent us that’s never dealt with the same experiences?’

To have the empathy to do that work and having gone through the situation yourself, it doesn’t just deepen your empathy, but it actually brings an understanding of what it takes, and how high the stakes are, and to be grateful for opportunities that we have, and so it is deeply personal to me that I will fight for the people of northwest Georgia.

“I’m a mom, like I said, while dealing with the struggles that we all are facing. I’m raising two kids and it’s hard to fight for kids, it’s hard to fight for education and opportunities, if it’s not something that you’ve dealt with personally. I think that is what makes me the absolute best person to be the voice of Georgia 14.”

Is there anything else important not mentioned here that you would like to make sure voters know about you and/or your campaign?

“Sure. A few months back, we’ve already mentioned it, but here’s some more details. We rolled out the largest voter registration initiative in northwest Georgia’s history. I know that our portion of Cobb County, Powder Springs, and Austell are new to us and it’s new to you guys, too, but before the redistricting, my campaign identified over 12,000 unregistered likely Dems and we’ve already sent out 6,000 voter registration packets.

“Like I said before, we are following those packets up with calls from my team and volunteers to help people with the voter registration process, talk them through it, see if they received it in the mail, go dig it out of the stack of mail, make sure we fill it out, get it back in. So far, we’ve registered over 500 new voters and we’re excited to see that number grow. That data, we’ve been working on it for months and months and raising the money to do it.

“That was before redistricting, so with Cobb, we’re still working on that. We’re going to continue pushing these and doing that work until the election, until November. In northwest Georgia, this work just hasn’t been done yet on a large scale, in a mostly rural area. It’s just not been done yet.

“With Fair Fight and Stacey Abrams, they spent years doing this work to make sure that more people are participating and it’s wonderful and that is what enabled us to send Senators Ossoff and Warnock to D.C. But it’s just not happened here yet, so we’re going to bring that good work up to northwest Georgia and that’s how we’re going to be able to flip this seat.

“We would love help from your readers. We always need more people to volunteer and jump in, so if folks would like to learn more about our campaign, or help us register those voters — because listen, that’s not just for us. That’s why I did it before the primary because this work has to be done and it takes time, so I couldn’t wait till I win because this is too important. It’s not a selfish, Holly for Congress thing. This work has to be done, so it’s going to help up and down the ballot for more people to be involved. It’s going to help everybody, it’s a rising tide lifts all boats thing.

“That’s what we’ve said all along, so it’s going to help us elect Stacey Abrams. It’s going to help us reelect Warnock, so we really appreciate everyone’s help. You can head to holly4congress.com and read more about my platform. Like I said, the rural revival plan is in there. We’re very proud about that. The people of northwest Georgia helped us write that platform. We can’t just be anti-Marge, that’s the thing. We have to have our own plan for what we want for our home here. They can read more about my platform, donate, sign up to volunteer, and find our social media platforms linked there as well.”

For more coverage and interviews on the 2022 elections from the Cobb County Courier click here.

Arielle Robinson is a student at Kennesaw State University. She is the current president of the university’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and former editor at the KSU Sentinel.  She enjoys music, reading poetry and non-fiction books and collecting books and records. She enjoys all kinds of music and reading poetry and non-fiction books.

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