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Reilly a familiar face for District 7 voters
Steve Reilly
Steve Reilly

A Democratic candidate for the next District 7 Congressional seat might be familiar to local voters.

Steve Reilly, who ran as the Democratic candidate for the seat in 2012, was one of five to qualify for the race. The winner of the May 22 Democratic Primary will face the winner of the Republican Primary between Rep. Rob Woodall, the incumbent, and Shane Hazel on Nov. 6.

Reilly, an attorney, said he learned a lot his first time running but the numbers at the time “weren’t there to win the district.” He said he is feeling better this time around, in part due to actions of President Donald Trump.

“This time around is different though, in that the numbers for a Democrat have improved dramatically and the Trump administration has accelerated the Democratic performance out here,” Reilly said. “There are a lot of voters and reasonable-minded Republicans that are just repulsed by Donald Trump and his administration and what’s been going on since his election that will cross over and vote for a reasonable Democratic candidate.”

Reilly said there had never been a Democratic primary for the district, and the higher number of Democratic candidates showed “the district is in play.”

He said he was also running to help the middle class through reforming tax policy, improving the Affordable Care Act, subsidizing key industries to make them competitive internationally and improving education both in K-12 and college.

“I think we need to make all public colleges and universities tuition free to all Americans,” Reilly said. “That’s something that’s actually surprisingly affordable if we are willing to make some relatively minor adjustments to the tax code to fund it.” 

Reilly said he also wants to see a change in how political campaigns receive funding. 

“We have got to have comprehensive campaign finance reform,” he said. “That means coming up with a plan to eliminate the corrupt influence of big money on our election system. Right now we’ve got these 501(c)(4) corporations and Super PACs that are funded by a handful of very, very wealthy people and special interest groups that basically work to manipulate public policy in Washington every day.”

Reilly, who served as an officer in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, said he also wants to see a plan to remove troops from warzones overseas, particularly Afghanistan. He said the country needs a new plan, and Congress should “reassert their constitutional role to decide when and where we fight wars.”

“Afghanistan alone, we’ve been at war there for 17 years now, lost more than 2,200 Americans killed, well over 20,000 wounded,” Reilly said. “We’ll spend something in the range of a trillion dollars in Afghanistan in military operations when all is said and done. We still have no end to that war in sight.”

Also qualifying in the race were Democrats Carolyn Bourdeaux, David Kim, Ethan Pham, Melissa Davis and Kathleen Allen and Republicans Incumbent Rob Woodall and Shane Hazel. 

Reilly has lived in Gwinnett since 1975 and is a graduate of Central Gwinnett High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University and a law degree from the University of Georgia. 

He lives in Peachtree Corners with his wife, Cathy. The couple has two adult children, Michael and Savannah. Reilly previously served as chair of the Gwinnett County Democratic Party and chair for District 7 of the Democratic Party of Georgia. 

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