Although the Washington Post recently projected that GOP candidate Rick Allen stands a 59 percent chance of unseating Democrat incumbent John Barrow in Georgia’s 12th District, Barrow retains a strong chance of survival, political observers say.

The Augusta Chronicle reported that the projection’s author, George Washington University political science professor John Sides, based his figure on the redrawn district’s Republican majority and a challenging atmosphere for Democrats in the midterm elections.

Sides said that despite his prediction of an Allen win, the race remains “only a little better than a pure toss-up,” the Chronicle said. No polls have yet been conducted in the race, the newspaper said. Sides said a Barrow fund-raising edge in the campaign’s final weeks could tilt the forecast in his favor, the Chronicle said.

Barrow, the last remaining white Democratic congressman from the deep South, is a conspicuous target of national Republicans. He has served five terms, surviving GOP attacks and realignment, including the last one that sliced Savannah out of the district and severely reduced the number of black voters. Now Augusta anchors the district, which veers down into Statesboro.

While the Republican National Congressional Committee is spending heavily on TV ads attacking Barrow, he has received strong support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Democratic group’s ads attack the business record of Allen, who owns an Augusta-area construction company. Barrow has also received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement.

A RNCC ad claiming Barrow has voted with President Obama 85 percent of the time received a “mostly false” designation on PolitiFact Georgia’s Truth-o-Meter, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. PolitiFact found that the ad’s figure comes from 2009, and that Barrow’s support for the president has steadily dropped, especially after the district’s last redrawing.

According to Congressional Quarterly figures cited by PolitiFact in the AJC article, Barrow gave Obama 83 percent support in 2010, 59 percent in 2011, and 28 percent in 2012. His Obama backing rose to 35 percent in 2013.

In a recent article titled “Will John Barrow be last Blue Dog standing?.” the Hill newspaper in Washington said Barrow remains “unfazed” by the Republican attacks.

“I think they have to make a different case than they’re making now,” Barrow told the Hill. “They’re making the same case they’ve made five times in a row. We’re trying the same case to the same jury.”

But the GOP sees the election as Barrow’s biggest test, with the redrawn district favoring Republicans and Obama’s low approval ratings, the newspaper said.

 

Carter gains in middle Georgia: Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter is gaining strength in Middle Georgia, Mercer University political science professor Chris Grant said last week.

“Since Zell Miller, he’s energized Democrats more than anybody else in this part of the state,” Grant said. “Jason Carter has some appeal and name recognition and interest in him. Nathan Deal has some hurdles to overcome, the sense that government hasn’t worked very well with him.”

Grant said Deal’s ethics problems and even the response to last winter’s snowstorm that gridlocked Atlanta’s streets are having an effect. A key factor, he said, is dissatisfaction among teachers over state cutbacks to local school districts, low pay raises and higher health-insurance costs.

“They’re really kind of aggrieved with the current government,” Grant said. “They’ve been taking hits for a long time and it’s frustrating. ….They’re making less and less money, especially senior teachers, and that issue makes them frustrated with the governor.”

Meanwhile, education continued as a key issue in the campaign, with Carter and Deal addressing the Professional Association of Georgia Educators’ political forum, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. While the forum was not a debate, the candidates grew “testy” in trading barbs over education funding, a charter school expansion proposal for the state and the economy, the AJC reported.

 

Voter registration hearing: The Georgia Election Board will hold a special hearing Wednesday into Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s voter registration fraud allegations against the New Georiga Project, the AJC reported.

The board had been scheduled to hear the case Oct. 7, the day after the voter registration deadline, but decided to move up the proceedings. The New Georgia Project, launched by Democratic State Rep. Stacey Abrams, called the allegations a GOP attempt to suppress voter registration.

The meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Room 341 of the state Capitol, according to the newspaper.

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