Jan. 6 rioter who pushed through tear gas inside Capitol advances to House GOP runoff in Georgia

WASHINGTON — A Capitol riot defendant who waded through tear gas behind a pro-Donald Trump mob pursuing police officers inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 advanced to a GOP runoff in a Georgia House district on Tuesday, NBC News projects.

Charles Hand III, who goes by Chuck Hand, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense in connection with the attack on Jan. 6, 2021. He is running for the Republican nomination in Georgia's 2nd Congressional District, which is held by Democrat Sanford Bishop.

In Georgia, if no candidate clears the 50% threshold in a primary, the top two vote-getters move on to a runoff election. Hand will face Wayne Johnson, who served in the Trump administration’s Education Department and was leading Tuesday's vote count, on June 18.

The eventual GOP winner will be an underdog in the general election against Bishop in the solidly Democratic district.

As part of his October 2022 plea agreement, Hand admitted that he'd written after the attack that he saw a crowd of people "rushing the Capitol Police" and that "tear gas, rubber bullets, mace and etc wasn't stopping them." Hand and his wife, Mandy Robinson-Hand, traveled to Washington from Butler, Georgia, and made their way to the Capitol, where, Hand admitted, he "broke a piece of metal fencing and placed it in his back pants pocket" during the chaos before they entered the Capitol.

A side by side of Hand holding the metal fencing and the object in his back pocket (U.S. District Court)
A side by side of Hand holding the metal fencing and the object in his back pocket (U.S. District Court)

Video shows that Hand and his wife went under a closing overhead emergency door that officers tried to shut as members of the mob chased down officers inside the Capitol. Several members of the Proud Boys were around them at the time. Hand admitted that inside the Capitol he moved toward an altercation between law enforcement and rioters but said his wife pulled him away, "discouraging him from intervening."

After the riot, Hand reached out to a cousin who was in local law enforcement, who told him "that ‘the feds are slow’ and that they would come to you, just wait,” according to a sentencing memo in his case. Hand was arrested in March 2022 and sentenced to 20 days of incarceration in January 2023.

Hand wrote in a letter to the court that he "had no urge to return to Washington" and that after sentencing he would "get in my truck and head back to Georgia, where I belong and never return to Washington D.C. unless the voters of Georgia decide to send me back as a Representative of them someday in the future."

A crowd of people at the Capitol (U.S. District Court)
A crowd of people at the Capitol (U.S. District Court)

Hand also talked about the “stigma” associated with the case.

"I do know now that I should have never entered into the Capitol and I fully understand the impact of my actions," Hand wrote in a letter to the court. "I am very remorseful, this experience has impacted my life beyond anything I could ever imagine.

Hand isn't the only Jan. 6 rioter to attempt to return to the Capitol as a member of Congress. Last week, felony Jan. 6 defendant Derrick Evans — who was a member of the West Virginia Legislature when he stormed the Capitol — lost his Republican primary race to incumbent Carol Miller.

More than 1,400 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, and more than 1,000 have been convicted. Hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants have received probation, but over 500 have been sentenced to periods of incarceration from a few says behind bars to 22 years in federal prison.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com