ATLANTA – Jake Evans and Dr. Rich McCormick, the two Republican candidates competing in the runoff for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District seat, faced off in a debate Monday.
The candidates focused on core conservative issues such as abortion, gun control, law enforcement, and election integrity.
Both said they were opposed to abortion. Evans, a lawyer, said he would only make an exception to save the life of the mother.
“I support rolling back and eliminating Roe v. Wade,” Evans said. “We have to make sure that Christianity, the foundational principles that our country was based on, are pushed forward because I think that will solve a lot of the major issues facing our country today.”
McCormick, an emergency room physician, called himself a “100% life doctor” and said that the idea of choosing between the baby and mother’s life is a false dichotomy.
“I don’t make exceptions because I don’t believe they’re contrary to each other,” McCormick said. “I believe if you take a human life, it’s never beneficial.”
McCormick also said that he has seen “the horrors of gun violence” firsthand in his work as an emergency room doctor and that he is aware of the nation’s mental health crisis.
“But I will say that taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens has never been the solution,” McCormick said. “You can talk about security of schools, you can talk about mental health, but if you’re talking about taking weapons from law abiding citizens, no.”
Evans also painted himself as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.
When asked whether he would support one of the compromise gun control measures currently being considered in Washington, Evans said, “I would have to know what the compromise is, but if it any way unconstitutionally infringes on our Second Amendment rights, I would not stand for it.”
McCormick criticized Evans for a 2015 paper in which Evans called for criminal justice reforms. Evans countered that he drafted the paper while in law school and that he is a strong supporter of law enforcement.
McCormick also called for pharmaceutical reforms.
“We need pricing transparency across the board, including with health-care centers, with the access to medicine, and there’s a ton of things we could do, but we need to first of all defeat the things aren’t working, that [President Joe] Biden and [U.S. House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi have instituted,” McCormick said.
Evans criticized McCormick for accepting donations from out-of-state organizations and “liberal special interests” that do not represent core conservative values.
Evans also called for closed primaries, in which Georgia voters could only vote in the primary for the party with which they are registered.
“What I’m out for is ensuring Republicans elect Republicans that will represent them and Democrats don’t infiltrate, manipulate, influence our elections, which is what happened two Tuesdays ago,” said Evans.
Evans also said that he would disband the Jan. 6 commission scheduled to hold public hearings later this week on the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He called the panel a “political weapon” against conservatives.
“There are conservatives throughout Georgia, throughout the country that are being denied their due process right to a speedy and fair trial,” said Evans. “We have to make sure that conservative voices throughout this country are protected.”
Evans contended that he is a true conservative who is not beholden to liberal interests and extolled his endorsement by former President Donald Trump.
“I’m endorsed by President Trump – you’re not,” Evans said to McCormick. “He endorsed me because he knows I fight. I fight when it matters.”
McCormick touted his leadership experience as an emergency room doctor and former Marine helicopter pilot.
“In the emergency room and in combat zones, I make tough decisions in tough places,” McCormick said.
In the May primary, McCormick pulled 48,967, or 43%, of the vote, while Evans earned 26,160, or 23%, of the vote.
The runoff will be held on Tuesday, June 21. The winner of the primary runoff will face Democrat Bob Christian in November.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.