After one session in the Georgia Senate, freshman state Sen. Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth, is setting her sights on trying to get elected to Congress next year.

Karinshak, who made state history last year when she became the first Iranian-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly, unveiled her congressional campaign on social media Thursday.

The Democrat joins the growing number of candidates running for the 7th Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, who announced earlier this year that he won’t seek reelection in 2020.

In a Facebook video, Karinshak — who is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate — referenced her military background while announcing her campaign.

“It’s a big day today. I’m lacing up my combat boots and we are running for congress,” Karinshak said. “As you know, I am a military veteran, federal prosecutor, state senator and mother, and I would be honored to represent you in Congress to fight for quality affordable health care for all of us, a world-class education for all of our children and reproductive health services for women and quality health care for veterans.”

Karinshak was first elected to the Georgia Senate last year, flipping former state Sen. David Shafer’s seat for Democrats when Shafer ran for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

She was quickly picked to be chairwoman of Gwinnett’s Senate delegation earlier this year.

In addition to graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Karinshak served during Operation Desert Storm in the first Gulf War and received the Meritorious Service and Air Force Commendation medals.

After her military career ended, she joined the legal profession and served as legal counsel to former Gov. Roy Barnes as well as a federal prosecutor.

Her bid for Congress now means two of Gwinnett’s seven seats in the Georgia Senate will be up for grabs next year because of the 7th Congressional District race. Fellow state Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican from Buford, announced over the summer that she will seek her party’s nomination for the congressional seat.

The fact that Karinshak highlighted reproductive rights in her announcement video could be setting the stage for some sparring between her and Unterman, who carried Georgia’s controversial “heartbeat bill” in the Senate earlier this year.

Karinshak and Unterman aren’t the only Gwinnett legislators running for the congressional seat, however.

One of Gwinnett’s seats in the Georgia House of Representatives will also be up for grabs due to state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero, D-Norcross, entering the Democratic field for the congressional seat earlier this year.

Karinshak has launched her campaign website, which is set up to allow supporters to donate to her campaign, at

She joins Lopez Romero, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Nabilah Islam, John Eaves, Marqus Cole and Rashid Malik in the Democratic field for the congressional seat.

The senator’s entry into the race did not go unnoticed by national Republicans, however, who quickly weighed in on her announcement with National Republican Congressional Committee Regional Press Secretary Camille Gallo predicting that the crowded field of Democrats was “bound to get messy” between now and next spring’s primary.

“Karishack, a first-term lawmaker who was endorsed by President Obama and Planned Parenthood last cycle, is running to be a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and the socialist Democrats,” Gallo said in a statement.

The Republican field for the 7th Congressional District, by the way, includes nine candidates.

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by subscribing or making a contribution today.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

Recommended for you

Stay Informed

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please log in, or sign up for a new, free account to read or post comments.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.