Mesha Mainor Reflects on Her Brave Journey to the GOP — and Her Bright Future

Adolph Scott, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

You might remember the story of Georgia State Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-56th district), a Democrat who switched to the GOP earlier this summer. It was a brave move for a public servant who represents an eclectic yet still urban Atlanta district.


When I saw Mainor at a distance at Erick Erickson’s Gathering over the weekend, I knew I wanted to talk to her, to find out how her work in the General Assembly had changed since she switched parties, how her constituents reacted, and what her future looks like. We didn’t cross paths until late in the afternoon on the second day, and she graciously agreed to sit down with me for a quick conversation.

Georgia’s 56th House District covers a wide swath of Atlanta, from Midtown Atlanta north to the area around the trendy shopping district Atlantic Station to the Georgia Tech campus, and then it curves to the southwest to include the Atlanta University Center complex. It’s a large and diverse district that Mainor gladly serves.

I asked her about her background, and Mainor told me that she was a “Grady baby,” born in Atlanta’s massive Grady Memorial Hospital, but her family roots go back to farmers in Central Georgia’s Dooly County. Some of her family members still farm over 1,000 acres in the middle of the state.

The truncated narrative about Mainor’s party switch is that she changed parties because of the state’s school choice bill in the last session, but the truth is that this summer was part of a long journey that begins with her family’s agricultural roots.

“The very first deal that I said ‘no’ to that the Dems wanted me to say ‘yes’ to was a bill about chicken poop in agriculture,” she told me. “So that was the start of trouble for me. And you know, here we are. Almost four years later, on July 11. I decided to switch parties.”


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At the end of the 2023 legislative session in March, Mainor voted for a school choice bill. She was the only Democrat who voted in favor of the legislation, which failed because a number of Republicans inexplicably opposed it. Her support for the bill put a bigger target on her back than she ever had before.

Within days of the vote, Sen. Josh McLaurin (D-14th district) — a mouthy Democrat who hasn’t met a stock lefty talking point he didn’t like — posted a photo on Twitter of a blank check for $1,000 intended for anyone who would challenge the popular Mainor in a primary.

A couple of months later, Democrats from a county just north of Atlanta began to attack Mainor.

“And in June, Gwinnett County Dems decided to come on my social media and attack me for school choice,” she said. “And I thought we were way past it, but since we weren’t, it made me do some self-reflection on, ‘Why are they attacking me?’ They’re attacking me because I didn’t want to defund the police. They’re attacking me because I believe in school choice. They’re attacking me because I support children with disabilities. You know, all of these were issues about policy. And I said to myself, ‘Okay, these are policies that you guys are adamantly against, then maybe you should be mad at me because I don’t believe in what you believe in.’ That’s when I made the decision that I was going to switch parties.”


I asked Mainor about the extent to which she differed from the Georgia Republican agenda, and she said that she didn’t disagree with much.

“I really agree with most of the things that Republicans have put forth,” she admitted. “The things that I did not agree with them on, a lot of the times it was me, giving the bone if you will to the Democrats because the leadership was like, ‘You keep voting with them. You’ve got to not vote with them sometimes.'”

“So if it was a bill that was not consequential to the people I represent, then I would just go ahead and vote with the Dems,” she continued. “But to really answer your question, the Republican Party has many tents. There are many different facets of ideology among Republicans, and everyone doesn’t agree. And the school choice bill is one example. There were 16 Republicans who did not agree with it, yet no one put a $1,000 check on social media to run against them. So I don’t anticipate having a problem.”

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PJ Media’s own Matt Margolis detailed some of the horrific, racist vitriol Mainor received for her brave switch, but the reaction from her own district was refreshingly different. In fact, she has experienced overwhelming support from the 56th district.


“So as soon as I announced, like literally, the press conference was still going on, constituents were texting me and calling me saying, ‘I don’t care what letter is next to your name. You still have my vote,'” she told me gratefully. “So I think I will be the first — not I think, I will be — the first Republican who was voted into office in metro Atlanta next year.”

Which brought us to her future as a legislator. Mainor is excited and optimistic about what the next few years will bring.

“My switch created a lot of buzz,” she admitted. “I’m glad about that, because it brings the issues of school choice and parental rights, putting people over systems, to the forefront. But what I am really excited about is the election in 2024 when I win, because I think that it’s going to show America, ‘Do not just think black people are voting with you.” We just never had a candidate to not vote with you. So there’s never been a black Republican running for office in metro Atlanta — until now.”

I asked Mainor if she had any encouragement for someone who may be thinking about switching from Democrat to Republican, and she had an uplifting message.

“Think about how you feel, right? What is your gut telling you?” she began. “What do you feel is not right? There are many Democrats who feel just like me. It’s inside of them. They do not agree with the ideals of the Democrat party, but it does take courage to do this. You have to be okay with people attacking you, but if you feel it, then I would encourage people to say that is the Lord and the Holy Spirit telling you what your answer is, and you need to listen to that.”


Keep an eye on Mesha Mainor. She has a bright future in Georgia politics, and I’m convinced she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes.


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