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Georgia Races

House Outlook for 2008

Will the GOP Swing the Pendulum Back?

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Georgia (08)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


November 19, 2008 Update:

U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall won a fourth Congressional term comfortably over his Republican opponent Rick Goodard by 14 percentage points.

May 28, 2008 Update:

This race has always been seen as one of just a few chances for Republicans to dethrone a sitting Democrat, even in a Blue year. With presidential candidates on the ballot, in a district that gave Bush 61 percent in 2004, it could very well be the phenomenon of “coattails” that plays kingmaker in November. So far Rep. Jim Marshall has done everything right, sticking by his conservative voting record and amassing a princely fortune of over $1 million. Republican veteran Rick Goddard will be making his case to be successor to the throne, though, banking on the fact that the “D” by Marshall’s name is cause enough for an uprising this fall.


Background

Two Georgia house districts—Jim Marshall’s 8th and John Barrow’s 12th—bucked the Democratic wave of 2006 and almost fell to Republican challengers. Marshall’s eighth district—the safer of the two—provided a slim 51-49 reelection margin over former Congressman Mac Collins. Both districts figure to be even more marginal without the tailwinds of 2006.

In line with his district, Marshall has staked out a conservative, pro-war profile in Congress. His votes against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2007 have drawn the ire of fellow Democrats including Macon mayor Jack Ellis and teacher Robert Nowak who have challenged Marshall in the primary. Republicans have recruited top-tier candidate, former Air Force major general Rick Goddard, who they hope can match up well with Marshall on military issues. Even if the two vulnerable Georgia Democrats survive this cycle, they may not be long for the political world as post-2010 partisan redistricting (Georgia stands to gain at least one seat) could damage their electoral calculus.

Candidates

Jim Marshall (I) – Democrat – current Congressman
Website

Rick Goddard – Republican – retired Air Force Major General
Website

Georgia (12)

Outlook: Likely Democratic


November 19, 2008 Update:

Incumbent Democrat John Barrow beat his opponent John Stone to win the district by a 2 to 1 margin.

July 18, 2008 Update:

Following challenger Regina Thomas’s easy defeat at the hands of Democratic Rep. John Barrow, the incumbent congressman can breathe a bit easier. He better catch his breath quickly, though, because when you represent a district that voted for the other party’s presidential pick in 2004 and when you won your last election by fewer than 1,000 votes, you can never rest easy.

Make no mistake, even with a competitive general election around the corner, Barrow must feel like a great weight was lifted off his chest. After many predicted he would be greatly threatened by his African-American state legislator challenger, he instead defeated her with over three-quarters of the vote. He now goes into the general election campaign against a worthy opponent, but the high ground is Barrow’s at the moment. Barrow ended June with over $1.1 million in the bank, dwarfing his Republican opponent’s paltry $8,000. Barrow’s general election foe, former congressional aide John Stone, has only raised around $100,000 over the course of the entire election cycle, while Barrow’s figure is thirteen times higher.

Barrow is still on the radar screen of the GOP who, with few pickup opportunities in sight, are hoping for an upset even in a district where Democratic turnout will most likely rise as a result of Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy. In the end, Barrow would be wise not to get too comfortable in a traditional battleground district, but Republicans shouldn’t get their hopes up either.

May 28, 2008 Update:

Democratic Rep. John Barrow has a tough row to hoe in his upcoming reelection attempt. First, he must defeat a primary challenger, state senator Regina Thomas, who isn’t exactly garden-variety. Thomas has political experience and, like nearly 70% of presidential primary voters in the district earlier this year and unlike Barrow, she is African-American. Barrow’s second challenge will be taking on whoever emerges from a pack of Republican challengers, currently led by former Rep. Max Burns’ spokesman John Stone. Make no mistake, though, Barrow’s not letting the grass grow under his feet. He already has $1.3 million in the bank, while money hasn’t quite been growing on trees for his opponents, the best-funded of which has just $43,000. Still, there’s no use beating around the bush: Barrow’s got a long fight ahead.


Background

Despite only losing by 900 votes in a Democratic year, former Congressman Max Burns declined a third rematch against Representative John Barrow. Seeing Barrow’s vulnerability, a host of Republicans including Iraq war veterans Chris Edenfield and Lt. Col. Wayne Mosely and Continental Field Systems vice president Ray McKinney have entered the race. Top tier Republicans—former Augusta mayor Bob Young and ex-Rep. Kingston aide Karen Bogans—are circling the race as well.

Barrow can take comfort, however, in his district’s demographics. Forty percent of the population is African American, and a Barak Obama presidential candidacy may motivate higher Democratic turnout. Even if Barrow survives a potentially less-favorable climate of 2008, his congressional days may be numbered as his seat will be a top target for Georgian partisan redistricting in the next decade.

Candidates

John Stone – Republican – former congressional staffer
Website

John Barrow (I) – Democrat – current Congressman
Website