Georgia: John Barrow Bullish on His Chances and Blue Dogs

Rep. John Barrow (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. John Barrow (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:22pm

The numbers alone mean Rep. John Barrow should be a goner.

The Georgia Democrat is running in a strongly Republican district that would have voted 60 percent for President George W. Bush in 2004 and 56 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.

The decennial redistricting process in the Peach State, controlled by Republicans, was meant to eliminate Barrow. It transformed his 12th district into distinctly Republican turf.

But with less than a week to go before Election Day, there’s a growing sense among those watching the race that Barrow, known as a wily political survivor, might be coming back to Congress.

“I’m encouraged by everything I see and hear,” Barrow said in an interview on Friday, noting that the polling numbers he’s seen “are very positive.”

But he said the most encouraging sign was that “a ton of folks are crossing over to tell me — some on the QT, some out loud and in the clear — that they’re voting for me when ordinarily they vote for the other side or the other guy.”

Barrow expounded on his record of bipartisanship and painted his opponent, state Rep. Lee Anderson (R), as someone “who can’t wait to sign up and join one side in this war and just contribute more and more gridlock and partisanship to the mix.”

Anderson’s communications director, Ryan Mahoney, said Anderson would be a “conservative” when he came to Washington, D.C. “The district has been redrawn and it’s a conservative district,” he said. “They want someone they can trust and they can count on. It’s abundantly clear that John Barrow is someone who you can’t trust.”

But Barrow has used an effective television advertising campaign to make the case to voters that he can be trusted to be conservative on issues important to the district, such as gun rights.

As a conservative Democrat, Barrow is an endangered breed these days.

He serves as a co-chairman of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and admitted that there may well be fewer Blue Dogs in the 113th Congress. But Barrow said they were still barking the right message of working across the aisle for an electorate yearning for Congress to get things done.

“While the supply of us in the House may be somewhat diminished because of partisan gerrymandering,” he said, “I also know that the demand for what we have to offer has never been greater.”