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Bob Barr’s political comeback falls short in Georgia
Barr, a former GOP congressman and 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate, loses U.S. House runoff
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
MARIETTA, Georgia (CFP) — Bob Barr, a former GOP congressman who bolted the party to seek the Libertarian presidential nomination in 2008, has fallen short in his bid to return to Congress as a Republican.
Barr, 65, lost the GOP runoff for Georgia’s open 11th District U.S. House seat to former State Senator Barry Loudermilk, who took 69 percent of the vote to 31 percent for Barr. Loudermilk had led in the first round of balloting on May 20.
Loudermilk’s win means he will be headed to Congress because no Democrat filed to run in the 11th District, a heavily Republican enclave in Atlanta’s northwest suburbs.
Barr, a former federal prosecutor, was first elected to Congress in the Republican wave of 1994. But he was defeated in a primary in 2002 after the Democratic-controlled Georgia legislature dismembered his district, forcing him to run against another Republican incumbent, former U.S. Rep. John Linder.
By 2006, Barr had left the GOP for the Libertarian Party and was its presidential nominee in 2008. He won just 0.4 percent of the national vote.
There is precedent for Barr’s attempt at a Republican comeback. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul returned to Congress as a Republican in 1996 after running as the Libertarian nominee in 1988.
The 11th District seat opened up when U.S Rep. Phil Gingrey made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate.
Georgia U.S. Senate opening leads to House candidate scramble
Open Senate race in 2014 triggers three openings in Peach State’s House delegation.
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ATLANTA (CFP) — When the electoral smoke clears in November 2014, Georgia’s congressional delegation will look a whole lot different than it does now, thanks to an open Senate race that has triggered a flurry of House departures.
Three sitting Republican House members – Jack Kingston of Savannah, Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Paul Broun of Athens – have all announced bids for the Senate seat, which opened up with Republican Saxby Chambliss decided to retire.
This has left three of the state’s 14 districts with open races. However, none of those districts are likely pickups for Democrats.
Kingston’s 1st District is along the state’s Atlantic coast. Gingrey’s 11th District includes Atlanta’s northwest suburbs, and Broun’s 10th District cuts across largely rural areas in the eastern part of the state. All of those areas are heavily Republican. Mitt Romney took 67 percent in Gingrey’s district, 63 percent in Broun’s, and 56 percent in Kingston’s.
In addition to Kingston, Gingrey and Broun, the GOP Senate race has also drawn former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who has deep roots in heavily Republican North Fulton County and is a protégé of former Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Handel got into a runoff for the GOP nomination for governor in 2010, shooting to a surprise first-place finish in the first round of the primary after a last-minute endorsement from Sarah Palin. But she could not hold off the runoff charge of then-Rep. Nathan Deal, who went on to win the governorship.
She then became vice president of the Susan B. Komen Foundation and became mired in controversy after the breast cancer-awareness group pulled its grants to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Handel eventually resigned, but the flap could help her with pro-life groups in her fight for the GOP Senate nomination.
Kingston and Gingrey are both veteran members of the state’s GOP House delegation. Gingrey is from the Atlanta suburbs, which is where GOP races are usually won or lost. However, Kingston’s base on the coast is also a heavily Republican area that could provide enough votes to get him into a runoff in a four-way race.
Broun, a medical doctor by trade, is the most controversial figure in the race. A widely circulated YouTube video showed him giving a speech to a fundamentalist Christian group in which he said evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory were “lies from the pit of hell.” He has also charged that President Obama is a “socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies.”
No doubt those views will appeal to some elements of the Georgia electorate. The question for Broun, though, is whether those kinds of statements will have much appeal among more mainstream conservative voters in the Atlanta suburbs.
On the Democratic side, Rep. John Barrow opted not to leave his House seat to make a run for the Senate. That has left Democrats to line up behind Michelle Nunn, a political newcomer and the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn.
In the 1st District, five Republicans are so far seeking the House nomination, including State Sen. Buddy Carter and former Kingston staffer David Schwarz, along with former State Sen. Jeff Chapman, businessman Darwin Carter and Bob Johnson, a surgeon and former Army ranger.
In the 10th District, the crowded field so far includes Republican candidates Jody Hice, Brian Slowinski, Mike Collins, Stephen Simpson and State Rep. Donna Sheldon.
In the 11th District, former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, who defected to the Libertarian Party to become its presidential candidate in 2008, has returned to the GOP fold and is making a bid for the seat, joined by State Rep. Edward Lindsey and State Sen. Barry Loudermilk.