Georgia Rep. Mesha Mainor

ATLANTA – A Democratic state representative who was criticized by fellow Democrats for voting with Republicans during this year’s General Assembly session has gone over to the GOP.

Rep. Mesha Mainor of Atlanta announced Tuesday that she is turning Republican, adding to the GOP’s House majority.

Mainor voted with the Republicans on several key pieces of legislation this year, most notably her vote in favor of a controversial school voucher bill. Despite her support, the measure failed to pass when a number of rural Republicans opposed it, citing a lack of private-school alternatives in their areas.

On Tuesday, Mainor said the Democratic Party doesn’t have her community’s best interests at heart.

“As a lifelong Democrat … I blindly followed a vision that is far from reality,” she said. “It is time to put people and sound policy above politics and false narratives.”

Georgia Republican Chairman Josh McKoon, a former state senator from Columbus, welcomed Mainor to the House GOP Caucus.

“This is a historic day for Georgia Republicans,” he said. “Our party stands for empowering parents to be advocates for giving their children the best education possible.”

Mainor is in her second term representing a heavily Democratic district, making her prospects for reelection potentially difficult.

Indeed, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, who also serves as chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, vowed Democrats will put up a stiff challenge to Mainor next year.

“Rep. Mesha Mainor’s switch to the GOP is a stinging betrayal of her constituents, who elected a Democrat to represent them in the state legislature,” Williams said. “House District 56 deserves a representative who will do the job they were elected to do, including fight for high-quality public education.”

There has been little party switching in the General Assembly in recent years. The most active period for party switching came during the early 2000s, when four state Senate Democrats turned Republican following the election of Sonny Perdue as Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and in the aftermath of the GOP takeover of the House.