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GA-12: John Barrow Can’t Raise Money from Colleagues

Among all those who voted against the Affordable Care Act from the right, the case of John Barrow is among the more puzzling. He comes from a basically dead-even district (D+1) with a high African-American population (it’s 44% black), yet he votes basically like Gene Taylor or a similarly situated Blue Dog from deep-red country. Barrow has gotten away with this for years, but the health care vote may have been too high-profile. And now, he’s even hemorrhaging money inside the House Democratic caucus, in addition to his shattered reputation back home.

Only five lawmakers, Reps. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) have given money from their personal campaign funds to Barrow in the 2010 cycle.

Five other elected Dems gave money to Barrow through their leadership political action committees: Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), retiring Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and politically vulnerable Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.).

That is in stark contrast to Barrow’s support at this time in the 2006 and 2008 cycles. In 2006, 53 Democratic lawmakers had contributed to his war chest. In 2008, the figure was 22.

Barrow doesn’t really need the money; he has raised $1 million for the primary, whereas his opponent Regina Thomas has raised just $45,000.

Barrow faces a primary challenge on July 20 from Thomas, who also faced him in 2008. Thomas didn’t run the greatest race in 2008, losing 76-24, but she may be carried along by the wave of frustration with Barrow’s voting record in the district. The Georgia Democratic Party chairwoman had to tell county chairs to “mute their criticism” of Barrow, and at least one county chairman has endorsed Thomas. Party Chairwoman Jane Kidd says that the criticism of Barrow and endorsements of Thomas violate state party bylaws which disallow any participation in party primaries, and said if it continues, party chairs should resign.

Showing that Barrow’s Congressional colleagues viewed the health care bill as more of a litmus test than labor, the Georgia AFL-CIO endorsed Barrow for re-election. Local labor leaders found the endorsement “unbelievable.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen