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Bishop’s Lead Dries Up in Georgia, New Poll Shows

Updated: 8:12 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop’s once-safe hold on his southwest Georgia district has slipped away less than a month before Election Day, and the contest is now a statistical tie, according to a new survey from the campaign of state Rep. Mike Keown (R).

Bishop led Keown 47 percent to 46 percent with 7 percent undecided. The 1-point difference was well within the survey’s 4.9-point margin of error. Keown’s poll, which was conducted by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies, was in the field Sept. 27 and 28 and surveyed 400 likely 2nd district voters.

The new poll came four weeks after another POS survey showed Bishop ahead 50 percent to 44 percent.

The surprisingly competitive race in Georgia is starting to draw the GOP’s biggest stars, with several helping to boost Keown’s bank account for the home stretch.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) made a fundraising stop for Keown last week, and next week the state Representative will be joined at fundraisers by House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.). The Boehner event will be a $500-per-person breakfast in Albany next Wednesday.

The Gingrich event will take place Monday in Atlanta and will be a joint fundraiser that also will benefit state Rep. Austin Scott (R), who faces Rep. Jim Marshall (D) in the battleground 8th district next door. Georgia GOP Reps. Lynn Westmoreland, Phil Gingrey and Tom Graves also will hold fundraisers for Keown next week.

Keown could use the late fundraising help, as Bishop had about $575,000 in cash on hand on Sept. 1 after raising $539,000 in the third quarter. Keown raised $377,000 in the third quarter but had $277,000 on hand at the end of last month.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent more than $150,000 on independent expenditures to re-elect Bishop, though it did so in the last two weeks, after Keown’s most recent poll. The NRCC has yet to spend money in the district but has reserved nearly $200,000 in television airtime in the coming weeks.

During a campaign stop in Columbus on Monday, Keown said he believes he has the momentum at the right time.

“I’ve been on the ground for 15 months talking to people,” he said. “There’s an anti-incumbent mentality out there, and there’s an anti-Bishop mentality in the 2nd district. … I believe this is not just about the 2nd Congressional district of Georgia. I believe it’s about the country. I believe in the last two years we’ve strayed so far away from where we need to be as a country that if we don’t pull ourselves back on November 2, if we don’t do some things to take back Congress, then we may be out in the far lands for a long time.”

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