U.S. Rep. John Barrow, one of Augusta’s newest residents, apparently has supporters willing to bet the Democrat has a shot at surviving in November. From Russ Bynum and the Associated Press:
SAVANNAH, Ga. — With more than six months to go until the fall election, U.S. Rep. John Barrow already has more than $1 million in the bank to defend his eastern Georgia seat after Republican lawmakers redrew the district in hopes of ousting the four-term Democrat.
Campaign finance reports due over the weekend show Barrow, the last white Democrat in Congress from the Deep South, maintaining a large fundraising advantage over four Republicans competing to challenge him in November.
Barrow raised $256,763 in the first three months of 2012, bringing his total haul for the election cycle to $1.4 million. His disclosure report showed the congressman still has $1.04 million unspent — more than four times the bank balance of his closest GOP competitor.
“Can we catch up to him financially? I don’t know,” said Evans attorney Wright McLeod, the Republican who raised the most money during the reporting period. “Can we win? Absolutely.”
Another Republican candidate seeking Barrow’s 12th District seat, Augusta businessman Rick Allen, had the most cash still on hand with $230,858. His total fundraising of $368,162 includes a $100,000 loan of the candidate’s own money. He raised $76,487 from contributors since Jan. 1.
McLeod pulled in $149,704 for the quarter that ended March 31, bringing his overall fundraising total to $284,346. He had $198,982 in the bank.
Allen’s campaign manager, Scott Paradise, said the campaign was pleased that “we’ve brought in the most money.” He said the Allen campaign wasn’t surprised to see Barrow “raising money like crazy.”
“He knows he’s got a lot of problems right now,” Paradise said of the Democratic incumbent.
Barrow’s spokesman, Peyton Bell, said the congressman had no immediate comment on his fundraising.
In November, Barrow is expected to face his toughest campaign in years, and almost certainly the most competitive congressional race in Georgia. The GOP-controlled state Legislature redrew the 12th District last year to carve out Savannah — the congressman’s home and a huge part of his Democratic base.
Barrow moved to Augusta last month to stay within the new district, despite its Republican-leaning demographic shift after political mapmakers replaced Savannah with more conservative rural and suburban communities.
His opponent will be decided after the June 31 GOP primary. Also running are Republican state Rep. Lee Anderson, a Grovetown farmer, who raised $70,340 for the quarter and had less than $48,000 in the bank. Anderson’s campaign manager, Reagan Williams, said the candidate temporarily fell behind in fundraising because he was busy with the three-month legislative session.
GOP contender Maria Sheffield’s report showed her campaign is almost entirely self-funded. She reported raising less than $14,000 from donors and loaned her campaign $100,000 of her own money. Her campaign manager, Kathryn Ballou, said Sheffield is building grassroots support from “main street voters” giving small contributions of $25 or less.
Barrow wasn’t the only incumbent Georgia congressman to report a seven-figure balance in his re-election fund. So did three of his House colleagues, all Republicans. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah reported $1.25 million on hand. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell had a balance of $1.64 million. And Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta had a whopping $1.93 million in the bank. None of them are expected to face stiff opposition this fall.
Lawmakers redrew Georgia’s House districts based on the 2010 Census. The state gained one new House district in north Georgia centered around Gainesville — the home of Gov. Nathan Deal. It’s a seat that leans heavily Republican, so the GOP primary will be the real contest.
Gainesville State Rep. Doug Collins had $142,849 in bank after raising $84,365 for the quarter. Martha Zoller, who hosts a conservative talk-radio show on Maysville station WXKT, had $34,559 in the bank and raised $72,513 in the same period.
A third Republican candidate in the north Georgia primary, Jackson County Commission chairman Hunter Bicknell, reported raising $4,049 and had $19,682 left unspent.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider