Barrow, a Georgia Democrat, is always a top target of the GOP. Should he decide to run for Senate in 2014, his party will have a hard time holding his 12th District seat.
“Ever since I was one of just two [House] Democrats to beat a Republican anywhere in the country in 2004, they’ve had that bull’s-eye on my back,” he said. “It don’t make any difference in terms of how I do the job.”
Republicans are already gearing up to take him on again. One plugged-in Georgia GOP operative said 2012 candidates Rick W. Allen and Wright McLeod are pondering bids. Another name floated by Republican insiders is state Sen. Tommie Williams. Deke Copenhaver, the mayor of Augusta whose name has been floated, told CQ Roll Call he has no interest in a run for Congress. If Barrow does mount a Senate bid, Democrats are almost certain to lose his House seat.
There’s no questions that Barrow has been a successful politician: He’s still in office. But there’s a certain quixotic feel to many of his legislative efforts. Even he admits that the road is long for his priorities. “Regrettably, most of the important things won’t be accomplished anytime soon, but that’s no reason to stop trying,” he said. “Remember ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’? The only causes worth fighting for are the lost causes.”
Throughout a 30-minute interview, he again and again emphasized the need for the federal government to be more fiscally responsible. He said he believes the greatest threat to the next generation’s future is the national debt.
“My great-great-great grandmother said, ‘Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without,’” he said in his folksy Georgia accent. “I think the federal government could use a little of that.”
Passed down through the generations, Barrow explained he learned the phrase — the philosophy — when he “was knee-high to a grasshopper.”
Then, in a twangy staccato, he repeated the pearl of wisdom for effect: “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.”