LISTEN: State Rep. Mesha Mainor was one of the required Democratic appointees to the council. Her July 11 party switch forced a change. GPB's Donna Lowry reports.

When you're a longtime Democrat who suddenly leaves the party and becomes the first Black woman Republican state lawmaker under the Georgia Gold Dome, your life changes in ways you don't expect.

Just ask state Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta), who has endured a continuum of both hate and praise on social media and in emails since her July 11 party switch announcement at the state Capitol next to the statue of Martin Luther King Jr.

She also lost her appointment to the state Council on Literacy.

Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns withdrew her name after she changed party affiliations.  

Mainor says she's disappointed but understands the provisions of the law determining eligibility.

"At the end of the day, the legislation says there will be two people from the minority party, and I was one of those two people," she said. "I am no longer a member of the minority party."

Her life has also become busy with media interviews.

"I have a new communications team starting this week. I've never had a communications team," Mainor said to handle interview requests from media outlets from across the globe, including in "Asia, Canada, UK, and Australia."

Mainor calls the publicity "a great opportunity for me to get my message out on why I did it."

When she switched parties, Mainor's defection gave Republicans a 102-78 edge in the House. She told the Asscoiated Press state Democrats drove her out of the party for breaking party orthodoxy, saying members “relentlessly tried to sabotage every single thing that I have done for District 56” and “publicly slandered me in every way imaginable.”

Her former party caucus disagrees.

The Democratic Party of Georgia has vowed to replace Mainor when her seat is up in 2024.

"Rep. Mesha Mainor's switch to the GOP is a stinging betrayal of her constituents, who elected a Democrat to represent them in the state legislature," said DPG Chair, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) in a statement. "House District 56 deserves a representative who will do the job they were elected to do, including fight for high-quality public education. Georgia Democrats look forward to electing a strong Democrat next year in H.D. 56 who will serve the people, not personal political ambitions."