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Georgia: Ex-Rep. Bob Barr Mounts Congressional Comeback

Barr lost a redistricting created member-vs.-member race in 2002. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Barr lost a redistricting created member-vs.-member race in 2002. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr will run for Congress again in a district that overlaps part of his area he used to represent.

The Republican scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning at an outdoors store in Smyrna, Ga., to officially enter the race for the 11th District seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey, who is running for Senate.

In an interview Wednesday, Barr said he already has a campaign team in place and is excited to return to Capitol Hill after more than 10 years to again work to limit “the power and scope of government.” He cited balancing the budget, changing welfare and cutting taxes as the highlights of his tenure in Congress.

“There’s an awful lot that needs to be done, and if I can help that in some small way, I intend to do that,” Barr said.

He said he has “spoken with a number of folks” on Capitol Hill about his campaign, and intends to reach out to House leadership about retaining his seniority should he be re-elected — a possibility he’ll likely bring up on the campaign trail.

Barr, who was first elected in 1994, lost a member-vs.-member race in 2002 to fellow Republican John Linder. Barr considered running last cycle against freshman GOP Rep. Tom Graves, who succeeded Linder. He opted against it, and is now running in the district in which he lives.

The former congressman spoke with CQ Roll Call on the same day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, which Barr sponsored in 1996. He has since advocated for a repeal of the law, writing an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times shortly before President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.

Barr had just come off a losing presidential bid as the Libertarian Party nominee. He said he has been active in the Republican Party back home in Georgia ever since and is expecting plenty of competition for the nomination in this safe Republican district.

Among the other potential candidates, state House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey is expected to join the race in a couple of weeks. He sent a note to supporters  Wednesday updating them on his plans.

Barr has hired Jeff Breedlove, who has worked with Barr for more than 20 years, as campaign manager. He also hired media strategist Fred Davis, pollster Kellyanne Conway and a three-person finance team to handle local, direct mail and online fundraising.

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