Another close district, another brave Republican doing the “impossible”: Ray McKinney of Georgia’s Twelfth District talks about the challenges and opportunities for Republicans.
Ray McKinney Runs For Georgia’s Fourth District
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In the few minutes of their impromptu meeting, however, McKinney conveyed to Pence the necessary information: He is a candidate in Georgia’s 12th District, seeking the Republican nomination to take on Rep. John Barrow, a “Blue Dog” Democrat whose peculiar vulnerability is one factor in the calculations for Nov. 2. If the GOP can make a net gain of 40 seats in this fall’s mid-terms, Nancy Pelosi will become the former Speaker of the House, and Republicans cannot afford to miss any opportunity for a pickup — especially when liberals seem determined to lend a helping hand. The story of Barrow and GA12 is the tale of a building electoral storm with enough political power to evoke memories of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact on New Orleans in September 2006 — two months before Pelosi and the Democrats broke Republicans’ 12-year control of the House.
The 12th District was one of two new congressional seats Georgia gained after the 2000 Census, when Democrats still controlled the Georgia General Assembly and sought to carve out a stronghold for their party. Yet GA12 has proven to be more conservative than its designers anticipated, rated only a “plus one” for Democrats by respected national analyst Charlie Cook, and has a see-saw history. Republican Max Burns was elected to Congress by a surprising 10-point margin in the 2002 mid-terms, but lost his 2004 re-election bid to Barrow by four points. In 2006, otherwise a disastrous wipeout for the GOP, Burns came back to challenge Barrow and lost by fewer than 900 votes out of some 140,000 ballots cast. And then came 2008, when Obama’s promise of Hope and Change proved the electoral tide that lifted all Democratic boats.
With a surge of black turnout in a district where more than 40 percent of the residents are black, GA12 re-elected Barrow — a white moderate — by a whopping 2-to-1 majority over a former GOP congressional aide, John Stone. Here, however, the story took a strange twist. In 2008, Barrow first had to overcome a Democratic primary challenge from state Sen. Regina Thomas, a black legislator with a far more liberal record and message. After winning that primary with 76 percent of the vote, Barrow then got a general-election boost from Barack Obama. However, Barrow has since voted against key items in the Obama agenda — including two votes against the recently-passed health-care law.
This race is winnable. Republicans need to stop conceding these districts and Ray McKinney is fighting for one right now.