Marked for extinction, John Barrow begins his fight for survival

Democrat John Barrow made his way to Atlanta this week to argue for his own survival – to explain why he and other people of the middle in Washington don’t intend to follow Tyrannosaurus Rex and the passenger pigeon into oblivion.

“I’m not at all in danger. I can tell you that wherever I go, there are people who approve of my approach to the issues,” said the Georgia congressman who, for the moment, lives in Savannah.

U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah/AP file

U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah/AP file

As of two years ago, Barrow – simply by his survival – became a man worth a series of capital letters: The Last Surviving White Democrat in Congress from the Deep South.

In August, the Republican-controlled Legislature made yet another attempt to end Barrow’s political career, by redrawing his 12th District in southeast Georgia so that it no longer includes Democrat-laden Savannah – and creating a largely rural district packed with Republican voters.

Republicans have forced him to call the movers before. In 2006, state lawmakers sliced out his hometown of Athens. Barrow said he’ll wait to see whether Georgia’s new congressional map will stand up to U.S. Justice Department scrutiny before he begins packing again.

That 2012 will be different was apparent on Tuesday. At the Capitol, in the hours before a downtown fundraiser, Barrow made a rare sojourn down press row – an effort to bring an early statewide focus to his fight.

To reporter after reporter, the congressman outlined an aggressive campaign against two targets: Republicans in Atlanta, who – Barrow argued — have attempted to fix a congressional race, and Republicans in Washington who have brought the federal government close to a shutdown three times this year. And we’ve three months to go.

Georgia’s new congressional map “reflects a rigging of the district lines in order to produce a predetermined outcome – where the parties chose their voters, and not the voters choosing their elected officials,” Barrow said.

“The people want the middle,” he said. “They get candidates percolating up through the primary system, in a district that’s designed to favor one’s party’s base or extreme point of view over the other. And that’s all they get to chose from. That’s what’s driving people crazy.”

Barrow also indicated that he intends to tell agriculture interests in his new district that they’ve been played for chumps by an ideologically driven state Legislature – which this spring passed H.B. 87, a measure intended to crack down on illegal immigration in Georgia.

The most potent portion of the measure – placed on hold by a federal judge – is the requirement that all businesses, including farmers, to employ a federal database screens out hires without legal residency permits. Barrow endorses the use of E-Verify – but only if other states are required to do so, too.

“The problem with doing it at the state level is that it creates a tremendous competitive disadvantage vis a vis your neighbors,” the congressman said. “Counties in the next state are laughing all the way to harvest. We’ve got crops rotting in the field. It’s not that undocumented aliens have left. They’ve gone some place where the pickings are easier.”

It so happens that Barrow’s only announced opponent so far is state Rep. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, who supported H.B. 87.

Republicans have already launched a small TV ad campaign in an attempt to tie Barrow to President Barack Obama. Next year’s GOP effort to oust the Democrat is sure to bring a smile to the face of every general manager of television stations in Macon, Augusta and Savannah.

For his part, Barrow will have to turn the tables – and point to a U.S. House so committed to a partisan agenda that it threatens misgovernment. Barrow will have to persuade voters that he remains necessary ballast.

“What we’ve got is a lurching back and forth, as folks try to seize the upper hand. And the result is worse than stalemate – it’s one crisis after another,” he said.

Among other things, Barrow pointed to:

– U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ bipartisan effort to broker a deal to address a $14 trillion federal deficit. “I think Saxby trying to lead the Gang of Six, and bringing more than 30 of his colleagues, is of huge significance,” he said. The decision by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to step down from Republican leadership in that chamber may be an even larger symbol of GOP dissatisfaction with a strategy of endless bickering, Barrow said.

– House Speaker John Boehner’s inability to engage in deal-making with the White House. “He’s on the back of a tiger. He might get taken out by his own people,” Barrow said. He said Boehner has continued a system created by Newt Gingrich in the 1990s – and perpetuated by Democrat Nancy Pelosi – that puts the chamber’s agenda solely in the hands of the majority caucus.

The center of Congress, he said, “has been starved out.”

– The relationship between Congress’ abandonment of earmarks and $500 million in guaranteed federal loans wasted on the Solyndra solar panel company in California. “Here’s irony for you. Solyndra is a result of delegating too much discretion to the executive branch as to how to spend the money that Congress appropriates,” Barrow said.

Yes, earmarks have occasionally been abused, the Savannah congressman said. But over-correction has resulted in “giving a larger and larger, more complex executive branch more and more discretion in how to spend the money that Congress only defines in the most general terms,” Barrow said.

– And federal funding for the dredging of the Port of Savannah – a topic of great interest to Republicans in Georgia. “It might make a difference to the fortunes of the Port if I’m not around, because [of] folks that play politics to the point that they poison the atmosphere – but that won’t be my fault,” Barrow said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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13 comments Add your comment

Jack

September 28th, 2011
7:33 pm

Barrow seems like a nice fellow with convictions: hard to get elected if one runs on convictions rather than political correct palaver

DC

September 28th, 2011
8:04 pm

folks around here are going to have a hard time voting for anyone who votes for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the house.

double

September 28th, 2011
8:51 pm

I did not like Nancy,but that was before Boehner.

td

September 28th, 2011
9:00 pm

I would advise Barrow to go ahead and find a house in a DC suburb and set up his lobbyist gig because he is toast. Georgia will be sending 2 more Republicans to DC after the next election.

Buymadeinusjobs

September 28th, 2011
9:32 pm

Rep. Barrow, as soon as you know your district, please make sure you have neighborhood meetings. Provide each person with a copy of Ryan’s budget if it is not to big to make copies(maybe put a complete copy of it and copies of admendents they voted against in the libraries or where people get together)..

Make a page or two with highlights on Ryan’s destroying medicare, cutting middle-class programs and reducing taxes for rich. Also their voting against admendment to cut oil subsidies etc.

Tell them all republicans vote in lockstop;; no no no or refuse to compromise and work with the democrats in house and senate so the people’s business can get done. Have written examples for them.

Make copies of Washington Post(Business section) Running in the Red—-GOP?TAX, Running in the Red, From surplus to deficit. I would also find articles on the poor getting poorer, etc

There is a healthcare article on White House.gov blog that shows how much insurance companies’s big profits, CEOS costs us for medical..

I would figure out how to ask them if you elect more right wing republicans who give the tax cuts to the rich. Do you have a rich man who is going to take you and your family into his mansion to live and feed them after the right wing republicans finish cutting middle class/poor entitlements such as food stamps, medicaid(nursing home/Home health visits, children healthcare), medicare, social secuity, housing.military tricare medical and retirement.

DC

September 28th, 2011
10:06 pm

yeah, that’ll work.

[...] Story brought to you by Savannah GA – Bing News [...]

Madison

September 28th, 2011
11:59 pm

If you have sense enough or care enough to think 7 generations ahead (Jefferson was 7 generations ago) like the founding fathers, you’d realize how troublesome is the fact that the majority is actively working to eliminate white people from holding office as a member of the opposition party. It won’t be 7 generations — probably less than 3, we’ll see the white majority fade dramatically. Then, the white minority will reap what they have sown.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

September 29th, 2011
3:15 am

If Mr. Barrow’s re-election hopes are pinned to the promotion and protection of Rome’s plan for the illegal immigration they’ve been orchestrating since the Roman Catholic Reagan White House, as an openly published, organized invasion for conquest of Our “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” pandering to farmers whose greed for profits leads them to betray their unemployed neighbors and countrymen, and patriot ancestors: I look forward to his soon becoming unemployed by the G-dly, righteous, voting, true Georgians of the 12th District.

fire eater

September 29th, 2011
4:50 am

Illegal alien defender Barrow will be purged in the coming election…his opponent needs to be MILITANT in fastening them around his neck. No Mr. Barrow, Georgia does NOT need illegal aliens and we taxpayers are tired of subsidizing their cheap labor in certain sectors.

Not directly related, but AL judge UPHELD most of that state’s illegal alien crackdown. If all southern and mountain west states impose such restrictions, the exodus of illegal aliens from them will open up jobs and reduce the taxpayer burden while swamping California and other “sanctuary” venues. Democrats, welcome your new illegal alien friends…and by the way, here is the bill for their presence, more to follow. ENJOY!

Concerned Voter

September 30th, 2011
8:04 am

I would vote for Mr. Barrow if he were in my district. I hope common sense will rise above selfish indignation.

[...] As Barrow pointed out in this space last week, the New York Times notes that the Georgia congressman is blaming the GOP abandonment of earmarks: “Congress has not been as good a custodian of the people’s money in the past and as a result of past abuses of the earmarking process, with highly placed members of Congress abusing their incredible influence at the closing stages of the appropriations process,” Barrow said. “The political repercussions of that have been to forswear all earmarks, which is basically Congress abandoning its responsibility to decide how the people’s money gets spent.” [...]

[...] As Barrow pointed out in this space last week, the New York Times notes that the Georgia congressman is blaming the GOP abandonment of earmarks: “Congress has not been as good a custodian of the people’s money in the past and as a result of past abuses of the earmarking process, with highly placed members of Congress abusing their incredible influence at the closing stages of the appropriations process,” Barrow said. “The political repercussions of that have been to forswear all earmarks, which is basically Congress abandoning its responsibility to decide how the people’s money gets spent.” [...]