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With 12 Candidates, Options Abound in Athens Congressional Race

Is Paul Broun the once and future 10th District congressman? Credit: Gage Skidmore

Eight Republican candidates and four active Democratic candidates all but guarantee there will be a runoff for one or both party nominations for the 10th Congressional District seat after the May 24 primaries.

Though who the nominees will be remains to be seen, the seat seems likely to remain in GOP hands. Stretching from Elbert County on the northeastern edge of the state nearly to Macon and west to metro Atlanta, the district includes mostly solidly Republican counties—all the counties surrounding Athens, for example—with a few Democratic-leaning areas, like Clarke County in the middle of the district, Taliaferro and Hancock counties and a part of Democratic-leaning Newton County on the district’s western edge.

Incumbent Republican Jody Hice gave up his safe seat to run for statewide office, challenging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the GOP primary with former president Donald Trump’s endorsement. Trump unsuccessfully lobbied Raffensperger to find more votes for him after Georgia voters narrowly chose Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.

Trump’s shadow hangs over the 10th District race as well. He has endorsed one of the eight Republicans in the race—Vernon Jones, a former Democrat who abandoned a run for governor to enter the 10th District race with Trump’s blessing.


Jessica Fore, a Macon native, UGA graduate and a real estate agent working Barrow, Oconee and Clarke counties, calls herself the “homegrown candidate” in the race, citing her many years of work and volunteering in the Athens area; she was on the staff of Watkinsville United Methodist Church for four years, according to her website, and has provided itinerant speaking and music ministry at numerous Methodist churches in District 10. Fore supports universal health care, expansion of voting rights including same-day voter registration and making election day a national holiday, and would index a minimum wage to local housing costs. She would raise taxes on the very wealthy, but give them a break if they actually created living wage jobs. Website:

Phyllis Hatcher is endorsed by some prominent Atlanta-area politicians, including state Sen. Donzella James, state Sen. Emanual Jones and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson. “The United States should join the rest of the free world in declaring that health-care is a basic human right,” she says on her website. Hatcher would expand Medicaid to cover more people and services, including dental, vision and mental health care; she would expand or restore voting rights and would make election day a national holiday. The criminal justice system needs an overhaul, and police and corrections officers need retraining, she says. “Institutionalized racism exists in this country and nowhere is this more apparent than our criminal justice system,” according to Hatcher. Website:

Tabitha Johnson-Green‘s name will be familiar to many District 10 voters. Johnson-Green was the surprise winner of the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Jody Hice in the 2018 election, and again in 2022, both times losing to Hice by a wide margin; in 2020, Hice got 62 percent of the vote. A registered nurse and entrepreneur, Johnson supports Medicare for All⁠—universal health care⁠—and civil rights protections for gender identity and sexual orientation. She would also restore the Voting Rights Act and overhaul the campaign finance landscape. “I support the overhaul of the campaign finance laws to prevent corporations and wealthy individuals from using their wealth to buy undue influence,” she writes. Website:

Flagpole was unable to find any relevant information on Femi Oduwole.

Paul Walton grew up in Los Angeles but has been a longtime Georgia resident and is now the first African-American mayor of the Madison County town of Hull. The policy areas he is most passionate about, he told the elections site Ballotpedia, are Medicaid expansion, climate change, ending qualified immunity for police officers, voting rights, and women’s rights. He wants to restore the Voting Rights Act and expand Medicaid to cover dental, vision and mental health. Three years on the Hull City Council, nearly four years as mayor and more than 159 hours of training from the Georgia Municipal Association have taught him “how to establish leadership priorities to maximize my effectiveness,” he told Ballotpedia. Website:


Timothy Barr of Lawrenceville gave up his safe seat in the Georgia House of Representatives to run for Congress with an endorsement from Hice. The construction company owner got 68% of the vote in the 2020 general election for the state House District 103 seat he first won in 2012. He has pledged to join the House’s extreme right-wing Freedom Caucus if elected. He supports a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election, and says “the left is using Critical Race Theory to divide our country and infect our schools.” “Americans are sick and tired of being silenced by the liberal left, and so am I,” says Barr, promising to “stop the cancel culture.” “We must build a wall, period,” to control illegal immigration, Barr says, invoking not Donald Trump but Ronald Reagan. Website:

Paul Broun once held the District 10 seat, but gave it up for an ill-fated U.S. Senate run in 2014, earning less than 10 percent of the vote behind four other candidates in the Republican primary, including David Perdue, who eventually won the seat. Broun calls himself “America’s most conservative congressman” on his campaign website, and has a record to back up his claim. He three times was sponsor of an unsuccessful federal bill that would ban same-sex marriage. He believes the Earth was created in six days, and that evolutionary theory is a “lie from the pit of hell.” Broun didn’t get the coveted Donald Trump endorsement in this race, but he has the support of former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. Website:

Well-funded Mike Collins is owner of Collins Trucking in the town of Jackson. He says, “I’m running for Congress because the radical left is out-of-control,” according to his campaign website, where he touches just about every right-wing sore spot. “I’m pro-Trump, pro-life and will protect our Second Amendment right. I won’t bow to the woke mob’s cancel culture or Nancy Pelosi’s job-killing, gun-grabbing agenda.” A February poll by Trafalgar Group showed Collins leading other candidates by a wide margin, but that was before Trump-endorsed Vernon Jones withdrew from the governor’s race and declared for the 10th District seat. Website:

State Revenue Commissioner David Curry says he would finish Trump’s Mexico border wall and “will never waver on my support of the Second Amendment.” He believes human life begins at conception and calls Twitter, Facebook, etc. “monstrous entities.” If they went after Trump and members of his administration, “it’s only a matter of time before they come after you and I.” He says the 2020 election was laced with fraud. “During the 2020 presidential election we watched as Democrats implemented unrestricted universal mail-in voting which opened up our electoral system to significant fraud,” according to his campaign website. A video on his website’s front page shows a ghostly image of Ronald Reagan and footage of a Black man smashing a store’s glass window front with a stick. Website:

The first thing you see on the campaign web page for Vernon Jones is “Trump-endorsed.” Jones, who served in the state House as a Democrat representing parts of DeKalb and Rockdale counties until 2021, endorsed Trump in 2020. He subsequently left the Democratic Party. Jones was running in the governor’s race until February, when he withdrew to run for the 10th District Congress seat. Days later, Trump endorsed him. Jones, a former controversial DeKalb County CEO, has in the past unsuccessfully run for U.S. Senate, DeKalb County Sheriff and the District 4 congressional seat. He has reiterated Trump’s claims of election fraud. As DeKalb CEO, he helped make DeKalb the first Georgia county to offer life and health insurance benefits for gay and unmarried couples, but has since said he’s not in favor of civil rights protection for gay or transgender people. He has said he would move to impeach President Joe Biden if elected. Website:

Marc McMain of Monroe promises to stop “cancel culture,” “fight the woke mob,” defend law enforcement and Second Amendment rights, and “uphold freedom and end abusive, un-American vaccine mandates.” A “100% pro-life warrior who will protect the family and traditional Georgia values,” McMain calls himself “the ultimate Washington outsider” as he attempts to get in. An entrepreneur and karate expert, he boasts a monthly distribution of 225,000 copies of his Town Values shopper magazine in nine locations. Another goal is “Stop the spread of socialism,” he told Ballotpedia in a 2021 survey. He is endorsed by several nearby Georgia sheriffs and police chiefs. Website:

City of Madison native, Delta pilot and Winder resident Alan Sims retired with the rank of colonel from the U.S. Air Force in 2014 after a 30-year military career. A West Point graduate with a Liberty University master’s degree in divinity, Sims calls himself “One Tough Conservative” on his campaign website, which features some of his military statistics: 59 combat missions, eight years at the Pentagon, 3,400 rockets destroyed. “The Bible and the Constitution are the cornerstones of our Republic,” according to his website. “Our rights are inalienable and come from God, not from government.” He promises to protect the Second Amendment, protect election integrity and work for energy independence. He would “stop the indoctrination” of Critical Race Theory in schools. Website:

Goodhope resident Mitchell Swan also retired with the rank of colonel, in 2017 after a 30-year Marine career. His website proclaims him as “Christian-Marine-Warrior.” “Colonel Swan is an unashamed conservative fighter and a firm believer in the principles of smaller government, secure borders and an America First agenda that prioritizes our Christian heritage over social/political correctness,” according to his website. You can understand major issues in terms of marine vessels, Colonel Swan explains on the site. Hull integrity is equivalent to border security, for example, while a ship’s propulsion system is comparable to the economy. “Restrictive aspects of government authority are proven to impede economic growth (taxes, regulation, trade agreements, monetary policy, frivolous litigation, etc.) and must be lessened,” says Swan. Website: