Georgia Man Convicted in Jan 6 Incident Walks Out of Election Debate

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Chuck Hand, a Georgia Republican congressional candidate who was previously convicted for his role in the January 6 riot at the Capitol, walked out at the start of a televised primary debate on June 9.

Hand and challenger Wayne Johnson are competing in a runoff primary to challenge long-time Democrat Rep. Sanford Bishop in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District.

Hand is also one of at least four Republican congressional candidates nationwide who was convicted for participating in the January 6 Capital riot. He was sentenced to 20 days in prison and six months of probation for the misdemeanor charge of illegally demonstrating inside of the Capitol.

At the start of the June 9 Atlanta Press Club debate, Hand declared that he would not debate Wayne Johnson because Johnson had been endorsed by Michael Nixon, the third-place finisher in the May 21 Republican primary.

During the primary campaign, Nixon used the court documents in Hand’s January 6 case to claim that his crimes during the riot were more serious.

Despite agreeing to appear in the debate, Hand used the opening to announce that he was getting back into his truck to return to southwest Georgia “because I’ve got two races to win.” And with that, Hand began to walk out of the studio during the live broadcast.

Debate moderator Donna Lowry, stunned by the display, called after Hand asking if he was leaving.

Johnson, a former official in the Department of Education during the Trump administration, told reporters following Hand’s performative departure that he would like to think Hand’s exit was his way of withdrawing from the runoff.

Johnson added that Hand’s refusal to debate should cause GA-02 voters “to pause and think about why he did it” and what he was trying to accomplish.

Following his staged walkout, Hand spoke with reporters outside for about 20 minutes. He accused Johnson of helping to orchestrate Nixon’s previous attacks on him. He also attacked his challenger for not residing in GA-02, which is not required for congressional candidates in the state.

In the May 21 primary, Johnson won nearly 45 percent of the vote to Hand’s 32 percent. However, since none of the four candidates exceeded 50 percent, Georgia law required the two top finishers to face off again on June 18.