Fifteen seats will put the Democrats in charge of the Georgia House in 2020. They need to hold on to a few seats like that of Bob Trammell, the House Minority Leader. His district went for Trump, but he hung on. But they only need to gain 15, and most of those seats lie in swing districts through Cobb and Gwinnett counties.
They were handed a gift in the form of Republican House Speaker David Ralston’s scandal. Ralston has been keeping criminal clients from going to trial. Now that Ralston has been forced to move these cases, we are learning about the horrors he was protecting. In one case, a 13-year-old claimed a pastor had raped her. Almost a decade later, after a suicide attempt and deteriorating health, the girl finally got justice. The pastor pleaded guilty to two counts of felony sexual battery on a minor. But the case took so long to go to trial, he will serve no jail time.
The Republicans have been protecting Ralston, rallying around their man. It is a powerful issue and the ads write themselves. Unfortunately, the Democrats now have an Erica Thomas problem the GOP can use against them.
Thomas is a state representative and senior member of the House Democratic Caucus who, last week, went into the “10items or fewer” line at a Publix grocery store with way more than 10 items. A man named Eric Sparkes complained to the store’s management, but nothing was done. Sparkes, who is Hispanic, confronted Erica Thomas and called her a lazy SOB. Thomas claims Sparkes then told her “go back to where you came from.” She did a social media video and multiple press conferences. The woman who needed to use the express checkout because she was pregnant, spent a great deal of time on her feet blasting Sparkes.
Trammell stood with Thomas. He defended her and both made it about Donald Trump. Thomas’ lawyer demanded evidence be preserved and witnesses be rounded up. In a subsequent television interview, Thomas walked back her claims, telling WSB-TV she didn’t want to say Sparkes specifically said “go back,” but that he used words to that effect. For his part, Sparkes showed up at Thomas’ press conference. He admitted he called her a lazy SOB and denied everything else. Additionally, Sparkes, who is a Democrat, had previously posted a diatribe on Facebook against President Trump telling people to go back to where they came from.
Fast forward to the police investigation. According to one Publix employee who was an eyewitness, Sparkes never said “go back” or anything like that. According to another eyewitness, it was Thomas who said that to Sparkes. In fact, the eyewitness says she heard Thomas “continuously tell Eric Sparkes to ‘Go back where you came from!’ ” Now Publix has released the security footage.
Thomas can be seen wearing a hot pink Planned Parenthood shirt following Sparkes through the checkout line yelling at him, just as the witness describes. Not only is it increasingly obvious Erica Thomas lied, but an eyewitness claims Thomas told a Hispanic Democrat in Cobb County to “go back” to where he came from. Sparkes absolutely behaved badly, but Thomas made it worse. Does Trammell continue to stand with his state representative who told a Hispanic man to go back to where he came from, or does he allow the GOP to use this against the Democrats? Thomas wanted attention. She has it now.
Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.