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Barrow Endangered by Proposed Georgia Map

A proposed Georgia redistricting map released Monday would add a new Republican-leaning Congressional district in the northeastern part of the state, shift the districts of many incumbents and likely keep GOP Members safe, while shoring up freshman Rep. Austin Scott (R). The plan, offered by the Republican-controlled Legislature, also significantly endangers Rep. John Barrow (D).

If, as expected, the draft map or something similar ends up being signed into law by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, it appears likely the Georgia House delegation in January 2013 would include 10 Republicans and four Democrats. The current breakdown is eight Republicans and five Democrats.

“It’s obvious that they moved this map around to get rid of John Barrow. There’s no question about that,” Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Berlon told Roll Call. “That district is going to be very tough for John.”

Republicans drew Barrow’s home and political base in Savannah out of his 12th district but added in the Republican-leaning suburbs of the city Augusta. The end result is a district that is substantially more Republican.

Republicans in the state tell Roll Call that a likely contender to challenge Barrow in his more competitive district is state Rep. Lee Anderson (R).

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Adam Hodge accused Republicans of trying to “gerrymander Rep. Barrow out of his district” but sounded a confident note about the 2012 race. “He has a proven track record of fighting for Georgia families, and regardless of what the final lines look like, he will win,” Hodge said.

The new district allotted to the Peach State during reapportionment, as expected, is anchored in Hall County. Under the draft map, the governor, lieutenant governor and Speaker of the state House would live in the newly created 9th district.

Two likely top GOP contenders for the new spot are tea-party-affiliated talk-radio host Martha Zoller and state Rep. Doug Collins, Republicans in the Peach State said.

In Southern Georgia, the proposed map shifts a number of precincts with large African-American populations that are currently in Scott’s district into the district of Rep. Sanford Bishop (D), appearing to make each district less competitive for the other party. Under the proposed lines, Bishop’s new district would be 52 percent black, according to data provided by the state Legislature.

Berlon said he thinks the map will be “OK” for Bishop. “He’s going to have to campaign pretty significantly. But … I think he’s going to be alright,” Berlon said.

While there are significant changes to the districts of GOP Reps. Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun, Jack Kingston and Tom Price, all will remain comfortably Republican, Republicans in the state said.

Hodge suggested Democrats “will be able to win all of the seats we currently hold and put at least one more seat in play.”

Two well-placed Republicans in the state told Roll Call that they expect Deal, a former Congressman, to sign the draft map.

Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, either the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia must approve new lines before they can be enforced.

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