A creepy airline run-in forges a Georgia bipartisan friendship

Rape survivor Lisa Anderson talks with Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) about his rape kit legislation. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

The Georgia political world is a small one. But here’s an instance where it felt especially so:

Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb was on a recent flight from Washington to Atlanta when a woman next to him was “inappropriately touched” by another man.

As Holcomb recounted Thursday on Facebook, when the man went to the bathroom, Holcomb told the victim he would keep an eye on the guy and offered to switch seats. Still, he wrote, the man touched the victim once more a few minutes later, forcing her to leave for a new seat.

“A couple minutes later, he reached over to me to fistbump,” Holcomb wrote. “Let’s just say he didn’t get the response that he was hoping for.”

Well, here’s where the story gets more bizarre: It turns out the woman was Joan Kirchner Carr, a journalist-turned-political operative who is now U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s chief of staff. She’s also married to Chris Carr, the state’s Attorney General.

On Holcomb’s Facebook page on Sunday, Carr thanked Holcomb for “your help and kindness during that flight.”

“There are still good guys in the world, and you are one of them,” she wrote. “Thank you again.”

Carr said she was moved to another seat after the incident (her new seatmate leaned over and asked, whispering, if the incident would make the news) and that the airline had a plainclothes security officer waiting to question the man after he disembarked.

She only learned that the passenger who helped her was Holcomb on Saturday at a nephew’s birthday party when she told the story of her flight to some of the adults – and her sister-in-law summoned up Holcomb’s Facebook post.

It has forged the makings of an unlikely political friendship between Carr and a Democrat once considered a contender to challenge her boss: The two plan to meet for dinner soon so Carr can thank Holcomb in person.

“Neither of us knew the other, but we were tossed into a bad situation and he stepped up,” she said. “He could have taken a nap and ignored the whole thing, but he chose to help. I am grateful.”

 

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