Candidate Walks Off Georgia Debate Stage After Statement

Chuck Hand, who was convicted of taking part in the Capitol riot, is running for Congress
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2024 2:42 PM CDT
Candidate Walks Off Georgia Debate Stage After Statement
Georgia Republican Chuck Hand walks out of a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club with Republican Wayne Johnson on Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Atlanta.   (J. Glenn/Pool via AP)

A televised congressional debate in Georgia didn't go as planned Sunday when one of the two candidates abruptly walked off stage after his opening remarks, reports the Hill. "This is where I get back in my truck and head back to southwest Georgia, because I got two races to win," said Chuck Hand before exiting the stage. Watch the moment here. Hand is running against fellow Republican Wayne Johnson in a June 18 primary runoff to see who will face Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop Jr. in November. Of note in the race: Hand was convicted of taking part in the 2021 Capitol riot, and he received a sentence of 20 days in prison and six months of probation.

"I'm not interested in debating the issues of the 2nd District with a man who doesn't even reside in it," the construction worker said in his opening remarks. Johnson does indeed live slightly outside the district's boundaries, but that does not disqualify him, notes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Hand tells the Atlanta newspaper he walked off to protest how Johnson (and a former candidate who endorsed Johnson) was calling attention to his criminal record, as well as to a drug conviction relating to his wife from years earlier, before they had met. His departure caught moderators by surprise.

"You're not staying?" asked Donna Lowry. "You're leaving, sir? OK." At which point, the camera went to Johnson, who said, "Wow, I don't even know how to react." Afterward, Johnson elaborated to reporters: "I would like to assume that Chuck Hand's departure, the way in which he did it today, was his withdrawal from the race," he said, per the AP. "But it certainly should cause people to pause and think about why he did it and what he was trying to get by doing it." (More Georgia stories.)

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