Feb. 7, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

House Members Soft-Pedal Their Résumés in Gubernatorial Campaigns

Even though having Washington, D.C., on your résumé is supposed to be like having a scarlet letter on your lapel this election cycle, more than a dozen current and former Members of Congress are running for governor — and trying to overcome voters’ ill feelings toward the nation’s capital.

Not everyone can be as lucky as Rep. Mary Fallin, the heavy favorite to win the July 27 Oklahoma GOP primary and the general election in November. Instead, Members are trying to figure out how to maximize their federal experience without taking on too much water in their campaign.

“It’s a handicap in more ways than a help. Even more so this time,” said one GOP consultant who has worked with multiple Members who ran for governor. Not only do they have to balance their calendar between official duties and the trail, Members are also casting potentially controversial votes in the middle of a campaign.

In Alabama, Rep. Artur Davis is favored to win the June 1 Democratic gubernatorial primary, but victory is not guaranteed. Davis has been running a general election campaign from the outset and voted against the health care reform bill. So even though Davis’ Democratic primary opponent, state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, is running a mediocre campaign, he appears to be drawing votes from disenchanted Democrats who are upset with Davis for voting against health care reform.

In Georgia, GOP Rep. Nathan Deal postponed his resignation from the House in order to vote against the health care bill, hoping that doing so would give him a boost in the gubernatorial primary. But his departure from office was met with headlines about a possible ethics committee investigation into whether he used his Congressional office to help a family-owned business.

It’s exactly what Deal didn’t need in the middle of his battle with Secretary of State Karen Handel for the second slot in the Aug. 10 Republican runoff in the Peach State. State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is expected to finish first in the July 20 primary.

According to one GOP strategist, Members shouldn’t quit to run for governor. The line won’t be erased from their résumé, and they shouldn’t throw away an opportunity to make news.

In South Carolina, Rep. Gresham Barrett is using his office as a platform to demonstrate his opposition to President Barack Obama and the Democratic agenda. One of Barrett’s television ads points out that the lawmaker is “more opposed to Obama than any Congressman in America, but one.”

Barrett is in the middle of a competitive four-candidate Republican primary set for June 8. He’s competing with state Rep. Nikki Haley and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer for a spot in the June 22 runoff against state Attorney General Henry McMaster, who is likely to finish first in the initial primary.

Rep. Zach Wamp, the eight-term Republican from Tennessee, talks about the Beltway from a distance, offering to meet people at the state line who want to take away guns.

Wamp doesn’t have the benefit of a runoff. He’ll have to knock off Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, the frontrunner in the GOP race, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in the Aug. 5 primary.

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