The cows now immortalized in Roy Barnes’ campaign for governor have become a political hot potato: Is that beef legal?
On his spread in Marietta, Barnes has two heifers, Molly and Polly, that were seen recently in a light-hearted campaign commercial. The Democratic former governor, seeking a return to the office in Tuesday’s general election, also had a campaign event last week to introduce the “new additions to their family:” newborn calves Tiger and Frisky.
But now Barnes faces an inquiry with the city of Marietta as to whether those cows are legally grazing on his land. The dispute centers on city zoning laws, which says, in part, that “no livestock shall be kept on a lot containing less than 5 acres.” It’s unclear whether Barnes’ property is that large. City records show the lot his home is built on is only one acre, but Barnes owns other property in the area, too.
Barnes’ campaign manager Chris Carpenter said city zoning laws are confusing, but said if pressed, Barnes would fight “to the highest court in the land” to keep the cows.
City attorney Doug Haynie said the situation is being stripped to the bone in search of answers.
“The city is not concerned with any politics whatsoever,” Haynie said Thursday. “The city has received an inquiry as to whether or not the property is properly zoned for livestock and the city is reviewing that right now.”
Haynie said it will take several days of marinating before a an answer is ready.
Haynie said he could not answer further questions, so it’s unclear who filed the complaint. Barnes’ opponent, Republican Nathan Deal, said it wasn’t them.
Meanwhile, both Barnes and Deal, who hails from poultry country in Hall County, are trying to out-flank each other on the meaty issue.
“This puts Roy’s neighbors in a bind,” Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said. “On the one hand, they don’t want a neighbor who thinks the zoning laws don’t apply to him. On the other hand, they don’t want him to move to the Governor’s Mansion. It’s a conundrum worthy of a philosophical debate.”
Not to be out-done, Barnes gave Deal something to chew on.
“For weeks, Nathan Deal and his Washington friends have been shooting at me, but they know that I can withstand their incoming,” Barnes said. ” So, now they’re taking aim at my cows. But this time he’s attacking my grandkids who adore their new baby calves, Tiger and Frisky.”