In the competitive world of politics, two state representatives have made an unusually civil decision to not run against each other in this summer’s primary election.
Rep. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, and Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, were pitted against each other when their districts were combined into one during the Georgia General Assembly’s session for reapportionment and redistricting last year.
Every 10 years, the Legislature redraws political districts to reflect changes in population recorded in the U.S. Census. The process is a complicated one that is often highly partisan and cut-throat.
The DeKalb County Democrats said they were not surprised that they were targeted in the redistricting process by the Republican majority.
But Holcomb and Parent took it in stride. The two are old friends and decided that the best way to handle the situation would be to choose together who should run to represent the newly combined district.
Qualifying for the July primary is May 23-25. Holcomb said he and Parent have made their decision and will announce it during the qualifying period.
“The process has been very collegial and supportive. Whoever is not running will be fully supportive of the candidate who is and will do everything in his or her power to work toward victory in November,” Holcomb said.
Parent said she and Holcomb knew that going against each other in a primary would only hurt their chances of being elected in November.
“We’re both young and can see the long view,” Parent said. “There’s no reason to go into a primary against a good friend. It’s better for us to work together.”
Parent and Holcomb met eight years ago when they worked at the same Atlanta law firm. Both had political ambitions, and Parent said Holcomb was the first friend she went to for advice when she considered a run for the state House of Representatives. Soon after, the District 82 seat became available and Holcomb, too, decided to run. They were sworn into office in January 2011.
Holcomb said on the floor of the House, he and Parent were seated one row apart. He would often turn around to talk to Parent about legislation and found they tended to see eye to eye on issues.
“She is very confident and talented, and I would be thrilled for her to be my representative. I’m fairly confident she feels the same way,” Holcomb said.
Parent agreed that she and Holcomb are on the same page, which is why they hope one of them will be able to continue representing the district next year.
“We have a very similar ideological outlook. It’s an outlook that’s right on par with the district,” Parent said. “We collaborated a lot in the Legislature and often see where the other one is on bills and considered each other partners.”
Though Parent and Holcomb have made the decision together, she said it’s not something either of them took lightly.
“It’s not an easy decision for either of us,” Parent said. “We both really value being representatives and obviously we’re disappointed by the way the districts turned out. It’s really been an honor for both of us to serve our constituents.”