On the campaign trail: A Barrow edge in 12th?

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In the closing days of Georgia’s only competitive congressional race, two political observers are opining that 12th District Democratic Rep. John Barrow has a small advantage over his Republican challenger, state legislator Lee Anderson of Grovetown.

Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report, who tends to be more non-partisan and middle-of-the-road in his calls, has moved the 12th Congressional District race from tossup into the “leans Democratic” column.

A similar change in categories was made by Daily Kos, a progressive website that supports Democratic candidates.

Daily Kos contends:

After the Republicans in control of redistricting screwed Rep. John Barrow something fierce, it was hard to imagine him hanging on: After all, his district see-sawed incredibly, going from 54-45 Obama to 56-44 McCain, one of the biggest swings in the country. But Barrow’d always been good (perhaps a little too good) at cultivating a very conservative profile—and he’s canny enough for me to believe that he knew this day was coming.

The East Georgia congressional district was redrawn to make it even more inhospitable for a Democrat – as Rothenberg noted, the new district’s voters preferred John McCain by about a 56-44 percent margin in the 2008 presidential race.

Barrow, however, has produced a series of clever TV commercials in which he has pushed the argument — valid or not — that he’s more of an independent than a Democrat when it comes to voting on issues important to the district.

Barrow also has been able to raise considerably more money than his Republican opposition: nearly $2 million more than Anderson, who had to spend most of his resources to prevail in a Republican primary with four candidates. Barrow had no primary opposition.

The funding differential has been partly nullified by outside money that has been spent on Anderson’s behalf by groups like the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

Anderson has also been pushing ahead with a series of visits to the district by Washington heavyweights like House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The latest visitor for Anderson is Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who became a hero in conservative circles for shouting “You lie!” at President Barack Obama during a state of the union speech.

Wilson is scheduled to hold a news conference with Anderson Tuesday afternoon at Anderson’s campaign headquarters in Evans immediately after a “Military Matters” campaign event at the American Legion in Columbia County.

Kingston TV blitz

None of the state’s other congressional incumbents appear to be in any danger of losing, but Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) apparently is not taking any chances.

Larry Peterson reports in the Savannah Morning News that Kingston, who’s raised more than $1 million for this race, will spend a good chunk of it on TV spots in the final days of his campaign against Democrat Lesli Messinger:

The Savannah Republican has released the first of three 30-second commercials, due to begin this weekend and continue until election day.

They’ll run on network and cable stations throughout the 1st Congressional District, said spokesman Chris Crawford. Radio and print ads will start in the next few days, Crawford said.

The first ad describes Kingston’s plan to balance the federal budget. The others, Crawford said, will feature testimonials about his record and his views about challenges the country faces.

The conservative lawmaker is seeking an 11th term in the 1st, which still tilts toward the GOP even after it was reshaped last year to add all of Democrat-leaning Savannah.

Messinger has reported raising a little more than $85,000 for this race, most of it in the form of loans.

© 2012 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: 12th Congressional District , Daily Kos , Jack Kingston , John Barrow , Lee Anderson , Lesli Messinger , Stu Rothenberg