Jan. 6 Rioter Running for Congress Storms Out of Debate

GPB News/Screengrab
GPB News/Screengrab

A convicted Jan. 6 rioter running for Congress in Georgia’s 2nd District ditched a live, televised Republican primary debate on Sunday, part of a bizarre stunt in which he walked out of the venue after receiving a question about whether he would support Republicans’ recent plan to overhaul the U.S. farm bill to cut food stamps, a program providing aid to help low-income Americans purchase food.

Chuck Hand, a construction superintendent, was convicted of a misdemeanor for illegally entering the U.S. Capitol building during the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and was sentenced to 20 days in prison and six months of probation. He is facing Wayne Johnson, a former finance professional who most recently served as a Trump administration official with the Department of Education.

“I’m not interested in debating the issues of the 2nd District with a man who doesn’t even reside in it, especially one who orchestrates attacks on my wife,” Hand said after being asked his first question. “I’m more concerned about beating [Democrat] Sanford Bishop, representing you and passing the America First agenda and putting Donald Trump back in the White House.”

The mention of his wife was an apparent reference to third-place GOP primary finisher Michael Nixon, who dropped out of the race last month and held a press conference in which he endorsed Johnson and attacked the “significant criminal backgrounds” of Hand and his wife, who was convicted of illegally selling oxycodone years ago. He later took questions from reporters in which he said he believed that Johnson was behind Nixon’s attacks on his wife.

“It’s perfectly fine to attack me as a candidate. I expect that. But to come out and publicly attack my wife, that’s a completely different situation,” Hand said. “My wife had paid her debt to society long before I ever met her.”

The convicted Capitol rioter stormed out of the debate shortly after, saying: “This is where I get back in my truck and go back to southwest Georgia because I’ve got two races to win.”

“You’re not staying?” moderator Donna Lowry asked as Hand crossed the stage. “You’re leaving, sir? OK.”

“Wow, I don’t even know how to react,” Johnson said in response.

“I would like to assume that Chuck Hand’s departure, the way in which he did it today, was his withdrawal from the race,” Johnson said after the debate, according to The Associated Press. “It certainly should cause people to pause and think about why he did it, and what he was trying to get by doing it.”

Hand did not respond to multiple news organizations’ request for comment.

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