COVINGTON, Ga. — Johsie Cruz Ezammudeen said she stepped up when others would not do so to challenge a sitting congressman for one of Georgia's 14 U.S. House seats.
The House seat represents half of Newton County and the congressman is seven-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia.
Ezammudeen was unopposed for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 4th Congressional District seat in the June 9 primary. She will face Johnson in the Nov. 3 general election.
The district includes western Newton County, all of Rockdale and parts of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
The candidate said she has visited city council meetings and churches and is using Facebook to get her name out in an area in which Johnson is well known after almost 20 years as a county commissioner and congressman.
"I'll go to their house if I'm asked," Ezammudeen said.
She and her campaign also were very visible at a mid-July event that raised funds for a legal fight against Newton County's planned removal of the Confederate memorial statue from the center of the Covington Square.
Ezammudeen said she wants to work to bring federal funding to the district to assist
with everything from infrastructure and economic development to equipping police with needed equipment.
Johnson only operates one field office now off I-20 in south DeKalb County. Ezammudeen said she wants to operate up to four field offices to make them more accessible for more District 4 residents.
"People want to have that direct contact," she said.
A native of Venezuela, Ezammudeen immigrated to the U.S. at age 23 and eventually became a citizen.
She works in the health insurance industry and admits she can empathize with people who have experienced real-life financial challenges she faced after two divorces left her with little money.
She said she understands the daily struggles her former countrymen are facing and opposes socialist president Nicolas Maduro, whose authoritarian leadership has left the oil-rich South American country in economic turmoil and under U.S. sanctions.
Ezammudeen first got involved in politics by working for former President George W. Bush’s election in Florida in the 2000s, she said.
After moving to Georgia, she was part of a Atlanta-area Latino group working for President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.
She also worked to help Karen Handel get elected to Congress in 2017, and for Brian Kemp’s 2018 campaign for governor.
Ezammudeen admits she is a political novice and has never run for elected office.
"Just like Trump," she said.
She said she waited to see if any other Republicans would challenge Johnson before announcing her candidacy. No one did and she chose to challenge Johnson for his seat on the second day of qualifying March 3.
The Republican then tallied almost 23,000 votes despite no opposition in the primary.
She openly admits she lives in Marietta and not in the 4th Congressional District. However, she also pointed out that the Constitution only requires U.S. House candidates to reside in the state they are seeking to represent, not the district.
Democrat Jon Ossoff did not live in the 6th Congressional District when he ran against Karen Handel in a 2017 special election, while Republican Marjorie Greene moved into the 14th Congressional District only weeks before she qualified to run this year and was the top vote-getter in a crowded field seeking the seat June 9.
District 13 U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, also does not live in his district.
"I want to be honest — I didn't want to hide anything," she said. "When I get elected I will move to the district."
Ezammudeen's campaign manager, Cat Fletcher, said he believed she had a chance to win because she is a "new brand" for voters.
“She’s had a lot of experience,” he said.
Johnson’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.