By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA - Gun shop owner Andrew Clyde handily defeated state Rep. Matt Gurtler Tuesday in a runoff for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 9thCongressional District seat.
Clyde, who led Gurtler 56% to 44% with 70% of the vote counted, will face Democrat Devin Pandy in November in the contest to succeed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who is leaving the House to run for the U.S. Senate.
While Clyde has never run for public office, he touted his experience suing the Internal Revenue Service successfully in 2013 after the federal agency confiscated more than $940,000 from his company. He subsequently testified before Congress in support of legislation prohibiting the IRS from seizing legally earned money.
Gurtler, elected to the state House of Representatives four years ago, ran afoul of Georgia Republican leaders for constantly voting against GOP-backed bills, earning him the nickname “Dr. No.”
In his defense, he argued many of those measures gave government more authority than it was intended to have under the Constitution. That small-government stand drew the support of the Club for Growth, a national limited-government organization that funded television ads attacking Clyde.
Another group, Protect Freedom PAC, paid for ads touting Gurtler’s status as the most conservative lawmaker in the General Assembly who would serve as an ally to President Donald Trump.
Opposition to Gurtler prompted many state Republican leaders to back Clyde, a Navy veteran who served 28 years including three combat deployments in Iraq and Kuwait.
He grew the small firearms business he launched in his Athens garage in 1991 into a nationwide company with two locations.
Pandy, an actor and Army veteran, captured the Democratic nomination to oppose Clyde by trouncing Brooke Siskin. With 70% of the vote counted, Pandy held 65% of the vote to just 35% for Siskin.
Pandy pledged to become a voice for rural Georgia in Washington, D.C., and to push for improved services for the nation’s veterans. He also advocated an aggressive push to combat climate change and a pathway to citizenship for young people brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
Siskin maintained during the campaign that her experience as a business owner would help prepare her to serve in Congress, as would her activism on behalf of victims of domestic violence.
She was arrested in Gwinnett County last month for refusing to comply with a court order to turn over guns and ammunition in her possession.
Clyde enters the general election campaign as a heavy favorite in the conservative heavily Republican 9th District, which covers northeastern Georgia from Gainesville and Athens north to the North Carolina and South Carolina lines.