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John Ruch Posted by on October 9, 2017.

Former news anchor to run for 6th Congressional seat

Former Atlanta TV news anchor Bobby Kaple will run as a Democrat to challenge U.S. Rep. Karen Handel in the 6th Congressional District next year, he announced Oct. 9.

Bobby Kaple.

Kaple, a Milton resident, left his journalism job at CBS46 last month, saying he would run for office. In a phone interview, he said his work in local reporting — in Iowa, Florida and Los Angeles as well as Atlanta — gave him experience in earning trust of members of both parties and in seeing real-world effects of national politics.

“It gives us a front-row seat to the actual consequences of the dysfunction in Washington,” Kaple said of local news journalists.

In a press release announcing his campaign, Kaple said his priority is healthcare reform that includes coverage for pre-existing conditions, partly because his twin children were born prematurely and needed extra care.

“I’m running for Congress because my kids, my mom, my family, and countless friends and neighbors, through no-fault of their own, have pre-existing conditions,” Kaple said in the press release. “In Congress, I’ll fight passionately to make sure every American has access to affordable healthcare. I will not sit by and let Washington politicians take us back to the days of denying coverage to those who are sick and placing lifetime caps on people’s care. That’s wrong and people here know better.”

Handel won the 6th Congressional District seat earlier this year in a special election that drew national attention for strong competition from Democrat Jon Ossoff in the Republican-dominated area. The 6th District includes parts of Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs as well as east Cobb and north Fulton counties.

“My total focus right now is on the constituents of the 6th District and the issues that are important to them, such as passing tax reform,” said Handel in a written statement.

Ossoff, who last week declined to say whether he will run again, could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel.

Handel was elected to serve out the unexpired term of Tom Price, who briefly served as U.S. secretary of health and human services before resigning last month amid scandal over his use of charter and military planes for work travel. The office goes onto the ballot again in November 2018.

Kaple said he was “troubled” by the reports of Price’s expensive flights. “It’s a perfect example of what people are so sick of when it comes to career politicians,” Kaple said.

Kaple is positioning himself as an independent-minded candidate — neither his campaign announcement nor his website’s main page mention he’s a Democrat — with a compelling personal story about the crucial issue of healthcare reform.

Asked about whether he consulted national party leaders, Kaple said, “I have not talked to the Democratic National Committee. I don’t take any cues from them.”

“I voted for Jon Ossoff,” Kaple said, but added that 2018 will be a different race, and “I’m a different candidate.” He noted the special election’s timing helped it to gain national attention and predicted the 2018 midterms, when the office is next on the ballot, will be quieter and more locally focused.

“This isn’t about all the outside interests that turned [the special election] into a circus,” Kaple said.

Kaple noted that, unlike Ossoff at the time of the special election, he lives in the district. And in places like Milton, he says, people tell him they “don’t feel they’re being represented by Karen Handel.”

Ossoff is also a journalist, working as CEO and managing director at Insight TWI: The World Investigates, which produces documentaries about corruption and crime. Asked about the coincidence of another journalist challenging Handel in a time when the media is often a target of national political criticism, Kaple underlined differences between his work and Ossoff’s. Kaple emphasized that his work has been in local journalism — including coverage of the 6th District special election — while Ossoff’s documentaries often have international subjects.

Kaple is now a full-time candidate and said he will remain so during the race, while the family’s income comes from his wife Rebecca, a reporter at FOX Sports South.

Kaple elaborated on the story of his twins’ premature birth at Buckhead’s Piedmont Hospital and how the situation fuels his concern about healthcare reform. He recalled calling the hospital daily on his way to work to “ask if the kids had stopped breathing,” learning that they occasionally did. The twins survived and finally came home after more than two weeks in the hospital.

Kaple said the medical bill was “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and would have bankrupted someone who lacked his salary and quality of insurance. He also said that, under some healthcare reform proposals, the twins could have had their own coverage problems in the future.

“If the Republicans had their way with stripping certain requirements out of the Affordable Care Act, [the twins] would have hit lifetime [coverage] caps at 17 days old,” he said.

Kaple said he also understands the skyrocketing premiums under the current health insurance system and that practical reforms must be made quickly.