Saturday, November 14, 2009

Can Regina Thomas Beat Blue Dog John Barrow In July?


Wednesday we published a letter that the Bulloch County Democrats sent to Rep. John Barrow, warning him not to take their support for granted. It ended with this paragraph:
Mr. Barrow, we have supported you throughout your time in the House. Even in the cases where we did not agree with your voting record, we stood firm and said John Barrow is our guy and we will back him. However, now our concern has grown into action. So, please be advised, that as chair of the Candidate Recruitment Committee for the Democratic Party of Bulloch County, an active search for a Democratic challenger in upcoming elections for the 12th district is a strong possibility. As always, you have an open invitation to meet with our membership to share your specific view points and clarify your motivations regarding this pivotal point in healthcare reform. We hope that you will actively support moving our country forward and support President Obama, as we do. (We have not forgotten how President Obama publicly supported
you during the last election.) Please do not take our trust in your service for granted.

Here at DWT a commenter from Chatham County attended the Democratic Party meeting there. She informed us that Barrow needs to look elsewhere for support:
Based on the reaction of his constituents at the Chatham County Democratic Committee meeting in Savannah last night, John Barrow will not be receiving the support of many local Dems in any upcoming elections. John Barrow was present at the meeting and actually tried to defend his vote by saying that the bill wasn't "Good" or Strong Enough. No one bought his used car salesman act. he is gone baby gone!!!

Today, a day after she filed official papers of candidacy with the FEC and ActBlue, Regina spent time with the Savannah State University Young Democrats. Last year the Young Dems, like the Bulloch County Dems, supported Barrow. And like the Bulloch County Dems, they're fed up and ready to move forward.

While Regina was listening to the Young Dems at SSU and sharing her plans with them, I was on a long conference call with major progressive fundraisers from around the country. Among other things, we talked about Regina's candidacy. One savvy funder pointed out something I've been hearing all week: Barrow beat her 76-24%, so how could she hope to win next year? It's a good question and it needs to be answered.

Barrow has no roots in much of the district, including the entire western part of GA-12. His hometown and political base, Athens, was cut out of the district entirely. He didn't win in 2008 because people felt he's been a helpful longtime congressmen. He won for exactly one reason: Obama made a deal with him. Obama needed some conservative white Democrats to wrap up Georgia's primary votes and Barrow needed Obama's help with the African-American majority who make up the bulk of the district's primary voters. So they endorsed each other. The enthusiastic Democrats in the district her an ad from Obama over and over and over endorsing Barrow. That was the election.

Since being elected there is no one who's been watching who hasn't noticed that Barrow's very conservative voting record-- and his tendency to cross the aisle and vote with the GOP-- has become far worse than ever before. A frightened Blue Dog without any convictions, Barrow's lifetime ProgressivePunch voting score is an unimpressive 55.66, one of the worst in the Democratic House caucus. But since Obama took office, Barrow's voting score has sunk dramatically to a dismal 29.41, especially pitiful when you consider than only Democrats in districts voting overwhelmingly for McCain have congressmen who vote as frequently with the GOP as Barrow does. Obama won GA-12 54-45% and Barrow's fear-driven outlook on life is geared in the wrong direction. He needs to start fearing the Democratic base, not rowdy teabaggers and crazed Glenn Beck fans.

In 2008 Barrow spent over $2.5 million, much of it from corporate special interests. Regina raised, primarily from small grassroots and netroots contributions, $100,000. People have been critical of her campaign skills. First bear in mind that she had never lost an election since first being elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1994 and then the Georgia state Senate in 1999. Basically, she won races by meeting all the voters and by building an unblemished record of serving their needs. She campaigns at church suppers and community events, talking with everyone. That works in a state legislative district; not so much is a sprawling congressional district that stretches from Savannah to Augusta to Milledgeville and Vidalia. But Regina is a quick study and this time she's assembling a team to help her with strategy and finance. A Hillary Clinton campaign strategist is working with her to assemble a modern and effective race. They even put up a Facebook page yesterday!

This race is going to be a long, tough slog, not unlike the hard races we fought that eventually led to victories for candidates Donna Edwards, Eric Massa and Larry Kissell. Regina is the first progressive to jump into a race against one of the slimy Blue Dogs who voted against Choice and against healthcare reform. Please consider helping today, even with a small donation at Regina's Blue America ActBlue page. We have 10 brand new Neil Young CDs-- Neil Young And Crazy Horse Live At The Fillmore East, 1970-- and anyone who donates today gets their name put in a hat and gets a chance to win one of the 10 CDs, complements of Blue America.

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At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear DWT;

I enjoy reading your column, because it helps me understand what the far-left of the Democratic Party is thinking. You are the ideological reverse of the tea bagger movement. However I do think that, caught up in your partisan zeal, you tend to distort and twist the realities of GA's 12th CD and campaigning there.

You ask the question, Can Regina Thomas beat John Barrow. My guess is most likely not. Here is why:

1) $$... campaigns are three times as expensive as they were just 10 years ago. The 12th District is especially costly considering that it has three media markets (Savannah, Macon, and Augusta) that a candidate would need to spend money in (upwards of $200K in each media market for a typical two week ad buy on the networks). The particularly expensive nature of the 12th CD is not surprising to politicos who live in GA. If you remember the Congressional lines were gerrymandered mid-decade resulting in the cut-off off Athens (Atlanta media market - very very expensive) and the add on of south-middle Georgia counties (more conservative). This was a plus for Republican Max Burns, who John Barrow beat in 2004 but had a rematch with in the now more conservative, and larger (added 6 more rural counties, including a bigger slice of Savannah) 2006 district. Max Burns could never have afforded to go up in the Atlanta media market in 2006 and still cover the other markets effectively. Which is why the Republican dominated legislature voted to draw the district with out Athens. BTW - State Senator Regina Thomas supported the redistricting effort. Simply put unless Regina Thomas can raise $1 million, no one will know who she is because the district is geographically too large for a strictly grassroots door-to-door campaign... you need to be on TV for that exposure.


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