Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Republican Congressional Gains in the Peach State are Grim.

In 2006, Republicans came within a hair of taking two Georgia congressional seats from the Democrats, garnering 49% in the 8th District and 49.7% in the 12th. But in 2008, due in part to the large turnout of African-American voters spurred by Barack Obama’s candidacy, the Republican share of the voted declined substantially in both districts. There is now talk among some GOPers about making a major effort in one or both districts next year, when Obama will not be on the ballot and the popularity of his administration may have dimmed.

Jim Marshall (D) 8th District:

There are some factors that suggest a Republican congressional candidate could do well in the 8th. McCain carried the district over Obama by 56% to 43%, and in the US Senate runoff in December between US Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) and former lawmaker Jim Martin (D), Chambliss won 60% to 40%. But, says a close observer of Peach State politics, “There’s a perception that Marshall is out of reach….He does a pretty good job of distancing himself from Obama and has a fairly moderate voting record.” Indeed, National Journal scored Marshall 55% conservative, 45% liberal in its latest rating. He did, however, vote for Obama’s stimulus package.

Perhaps sensing that Marshall is not vulnerable, no GOPers have indicated they plan to challenge him next year. Rick Goddard, former commanding general at Warner Robbins Air Force Base, garnered 43% against Marshall in 2008, not a strong enough showing to guarantee a re-run. But he has not ruled out another race and his name usually gets mentioned in any discussion of potential challengers to Marshall.

Former 3rd District Congressman Mac Collins, who suffered a razor-thin (49%) loss in the District in 2006, did not run again in 2008, mainly because the Republican establishment -- in Washington as well as in Georgia -- got behind Goddard’s candidacy. There have been no signs that Collins will run, but he gets mentioned also.

John Barrow (D) 12th District:

US Rep. John Barrow (D) was re-elected with 66% of the vote in 2008. At the same time Obama carried the district with 55%, and in the December 2008 US Senate runoff, Democrat Martin carried the district by 51% to 49% over Chambliss. The base of the Democratic strength here is the large African-American population, which accounts for about 43% of the electorate.

Despite these daunting statistics, Republican Wayne Moseley, an orthopedic surgeon and a veteran of the war in Iraq, has already announced his candidacy and pledged to spend $500,000 of his own money in his campaign.

At least two other Republicans are potential candidates for next year’s race. State Rep. Jon Burns is from Effingham County, which has the largest number of GOP-leaning voters in the district. State Rep. Bob Lane is from Bulloch County, the second largest Republican County. “Both are pretty popular,” says a Republican district insider.

John Stone, a former aide to the late Congressman Charlie Norwood (R), suffered a 34%-to-66% loss to Barrow last year and has announced that he will not run for the seat in 2010.

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