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Race Ratings: In Georgia, New Geography Won’t Hurt GOP

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. John Barrow’s district looks different under the new map. Barrow’s home is no longer in his district, and he lost some solidly Democratic areas.

12th district
Incumbent: John Barrow (D)
4th term (57 percent)
Rating: Tossup

The new Congressional lines might as well have been in the shape of a big target on Barrow’s back — the Legislature put his political future in real peril. While he will no longer live in the 12th district, Barrow’s office said he will definitely run for another term there. Democratic-leaning Savannah moved to another district and the 12th gained the strongly Republican suburbs of Augusta. Under the new lines, a little less than 60 percent of voters would have cast their ballot for McCain in 2008. (Obama won Barrow’s current district with 54 percent of the vote.) The changes make winning another term substantially more difficult for Barrow, a co-chairman of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition.

Still, Barrow is a wily survivor who managed to remain in Congress after Georgia’s 2005 redistricting drew him out of his first district. He is known as a hard worker and a smart campaigner, so the new lines alone are not enough to close the book on his Congressional career. Also, the fact that Obama will be on the top of the ticket in 2012 should help increase Democratic turnout all over Georgia. Barrow raised just more than $400,000 in the second quarter and had $490,000 in cash on hand at the end of June.

Only state Rep. Lee Anderson (R) has announced against Barrow. Raymond McKinney, who lost to Barrow in 2010, is among the other Republicans pondering a bid. Businessman Rick Allen may also enter the race. Anderson, a high-grade hay farmer and tractor salesman from Columbia County in the northern part of the district, was elected to the state House in 2008. Before that, he was engaged in local politics, serving on the county board of education.

13th district
Incumbent: David Scott (D)
5th term (69 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Scott’s new C-shaped district curves from the southern portion of Cobb County through Douglas, Fulton, Fayette, Clayton and Henry counties. Though the new 13th is slightly less Democratic than the current one, Scott should easily win a 6th term.

14th district
Incumbent: Tom Graves (R)
1st full term (Uncontested)
Rating: Safe Republican

Graves may pull a primary challenger or two in this newly drawn and newly numbered district that includes about half of the territory he currently represents. Two potential opponents include former Paulding County Commission Chairman Jerry Shearin and businessman Steve Tarvin.

“He just doesn’t meet my values and principles,” Tarvin told Roll Call, adding he would decide on a bid in the next month. But even Tarvin admits it will be difficult for any potential opponents to get to the right of Graves’ voting record. Republicans in the state said Graves is seen as likely to be re-elected, despite the potential primary challenges, in what will remain a very comfortable GOP district for years to come.

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