“I don’t like the result,” Hill said of the Nov. 7 special election, where the Senate District 6 race shed five Republican contenders and is heading into a runoff between Democrats Jen Jordan and Jaha Howard. “I wanted to make sure my constituents were well-represented, and now I don’t think they will be.”
On the other hand, Hill said, he resigned the seat to focus on his gubernatorial run and ensure his constituents could elect a replacement rather than have one appointed, and that’s what they’re doing.
Senate District 6 includes southern Cobb, a large swath of northern Buckhead, and sections of southern and central areas of Sandy Springs. Hill spoke about the race after delivering the keynote address at Sandy Springs’ Nov. 10 Veterans Day ceremony.
The district has long been a partisan battleground. For many years, it was a Cobb-centered seat held for four terms by Democrat Doug Stoner. In a highly contentious 2011 redistricting, the Republican-led legislature redrew the district to include the Buckhead and Sandy Springs areas. Republicans said that just reflected population changes. Democrats argued it was a move to flip the district Republican and ensure a supermajority that could override vetoes and push state constitutional amendments.
The seat indeed flipped Republican with Hill’s election in 2012. But it was not solidly Republican. Last year, Hill barely defeated Howard, 52 to 48 percent, in one of the electoral close calls that drew the attention of local GOP leaders. Now the district is flipping back to Democratic control.
“The district is a very evenly split district,” Hill said when asked about the local political significance of the flip. He noted that five candidates split the Republican vote and the Democrats combined got under 50 percent, so “it becomes a math problem.” He indicated he was surprised that a Republican did not come out on top.
Precinct-based election results showed Republican candidates winning most votes in Buckhead’s single-family suburban areas. But Jordan won a plurality in central Buckhead and many of the Sandy Springs precincts.
Beer Jobs Bill legacy
Whether it was Democrats toasting victory or Republicans needing a drink, Election Night beer-drinking was a reminder of a political legacy Hill likes better: the Beer Jobs Bill.
Hill shepherded that legislation through the Gold Dome last year, which allowed breweries and distilleries to sell a certain amount of alcoholic drinks directly to consumers rather than through a distributor. That has contributed to a boom in the craft brewery and distillery business, local leaders and companies say.
Pontoon Brewing, opening soon in Sandy Springs, is among those who said the law helped their business. And the overall craft brewing boom’s economic development affects are big enough that an entire forum on the topic was held by north Fulton leaders in Sandy Springs in September.
“It’s doing exactly what we intended,” Hill said of the legislation, noting that it cut red tape for such businesses. “We need to do that for all industries,” he added.