Turnout will be very important as the July 20th primary is quickly approaching and voters of the 12th Congressional District have a real choice of who will be the next Democratic candidate for this upcoming November election.
Incumbent John Barrow will face a more determined challenge during this election cycle from former Georgia State Senator Regina Thomas.
Thomas had been a member of the Georgia Assembly since 1994 until she decided to make her first run for Georgia’s 12th district seat in 2008. She was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1994 to 1998, and represented the Second District of the Georgia State Senate from 2000 to 2008.
Barrow was first elected to Congress in 2004 after a mid-decade redistricting change, and the Athens native started to become more and more known as someone who is likely to vote against his own district at critical times.
Barrow’s emergence of voting against his core constituents became clearly evident when he became one of 39 Democrats to vote against the Affordable Health Care for America Act in November 2009.
In March, he was one of 34 to vote against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act that passed the House 219-212.
Barrow has received a lot of support from the health care insurance lobby during his short tenure in Congress. Recent numbers show, he has received well over $300,000 from health professionals and over $100,000 from the pharmaceutical industry.
A self-described Blue Dog Democrat, Barrow has taken a more of a conservative turn, especially since candidate Barack Obama became President Obama in early 2009.
Incidentally, then-candidate Obama had endorsed Barrow nearly two years ago and that endorsement was instrumental in his relatively easy victory over Thomas the first time around. On a side note, Obama won the 12th Congressional District with 53% percent of the vote over John McCain’s 45% in 2008.
However, Obama may have quickly realized his mis-calculation after his hasty endorsement in 2008 that Barrow is more like Zell Miller who endorsed Bush for president in 2004 and Jim Marshall, the U.S. representative of Georgia’s Eight Congressional District.
Barrow’s vote against the health care law has drawn a heavy backlash from the heavily African-American 12th congressional district.
Macon’s Jim Marshall took a calculated risk when he voted against his own political party along with Barrow. However, it is up to the constituents to make their voices heard.
This time around there will be no endorsement from President Obama or county Democratic chairs such as John Brewer, Democratic Party chairman for rural Montgomery County. Brewer says he will not vote for Barrow in the July 20th primary.
The median income of Georgia’s 12th Congressional District is $30,383 and the poverty level is at 22%.
Barrow’s opposition to the health care legislation and not advocating for a public option will be an issue that will affect him whether it is in July or if he manages to get to November.
Turnout is crucial in majority African-American counties such as Hancock, Tatnall, Washington, Burke, Warren counties or majority African-American cities with population centers such as Savannah, Augusta, Milledgeville, Wrightsville and Millen.
Even though turnout is significantly lower in a non-presidential year, but for all Democrats here in Georgia, it is vital for a strong turnout to help reverse a conservative trend that is determined to oppose all of President Obama’s initiatives and close the door to any fair compromises in regard to various types of legislation.
Barrow’s tenure as representative of the 12th district has been seen as ‘awkward’ — especially when the No. 3 House Democrat, Jim Clyburn visits Georgia in early June to talk about the benefits of the health care law that was passed in March.
Mr. Barrow will likely be absent.
The 12th Congressional District seat is definitely up for grabs this time around, but ultimately the voters have to make the effort to go out the polls and make their voice heard officially through the ballot.