Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia’s new Congressional map into law Sept. 7, substantially changing the geography of a number of GOP-held districts but shoring up Republican incumbents. The GOP-controlled Legislature drew Rep. John Barrow (D) out of his district and made it substantially more Republican.
The district Georgia gained in reapportionment was numbered as the 9th and placed in the northeastern part of the state. The Hall County-anchored district is exceedingly Republican and is home to Deal, the lieutenant governor and the state Speaker. The political muscle there should make for a rousing primary battle for 2012.
Should Barrow lose, the Georgia House delegation taking the oath in January 2013 appears likely to be made up of 10 Republicans and four Democrats. All the Democrats are likely to be African-Americans representing majority-minority districts.
1st district Incumbent: Jack Kingston (R) 10th term (72 percent) Rating: Safe Republican
It will be almost impossible for Kingston to best his 2010 winning percentage in his new district, which now includes Democratic Savannah. But it will also be extremely difficult for him to lose the seat under any circumstances. The longtime Member has represented every part of his new district before and actually attends church in downtown Savannah.
Should Kingston retire, this is the kind of district Democrats would take a serious look at if they were facing a 2006-style wave election in their favor. But given how 2012 is shaping up, Kingston should easily win re-election.
2nd district Incumbent: Sanford Bishop (D) 10th term (51 percent) Rating: Likely Democrat
What a relief the new Congressional lines must have been for Bishop, who won re-election by a slim margin last fall. The 2nd is now a majority-minority district that would comfortably have gone for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
While Bishop remains more vulnerable than most other Democrats in the Peach State, it seems unlikely Republicans will expend much energy trying to unseat him.
3rd district Incumbent: Lynn Westmoreland (R) 4th term (69 percent) Rating: Safe Republican
Westmoreland’s new district is similar to his current district. And his prospects for re-election are similar, too: It’s a safe district for any Republican, and even more so for Westmoreland, who leads his party’s redistricting effort.
4th district Incumbent: Hank Johnson (D) 3rd term (75 percent) Rating: Safe Democrat
Not to worry, Johnson’s district in the eastern part of greater Atlanta won’t tip over. Though the new lines leave the 4th less Democratic, Johnson — who gained temporary Internet superstar status when he wondered during a committee hearing if increased population might lead the island of Guam to “tip over and capsize” — should comfortably win re-election.
5th district Incumbent: John Lewis (D) 13th term (74 percent) Rating: Safe Democrat