Posted: 9:00 am Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Hints of turmoil in another GOP effort to oust John Barrow 

By Jim Galloway

032913 Leg Photo JG31

House Rules Chairman John Meadows, R-Calhoun, left, and Rep. Delvis Dutton, R-Glennville. Dutton announced his 12th District congressional candidacy in February. AJC file

For the last several election cycles, Republican attempts to sack John Barrow, the last white Democrat from the Deep South in Congress, have had the feel of a snipe hunt.

A scrambling in the dark, accompanied by a great number of stubbed toes, with nothing to show but an empty burlap bag when the lights are turned on.

Republicans have made the 12th District as GOP-friendly as the numbers legally allow. They have shifted its center of gravity from Athens to Savannah to Augusta. Barrow, who now has a permanent account with Two Men And A Truck, has deftly sent his challengers home each time.

But Barrow’s campaigning prowess isn’t the sole factor. Republicans have had difficulty producing a quality candidate – without running a cash-draining gauntlet. A grueling 2012 primary and runoff produced Lee Anderson, an affable state lawmaker and farmer so deficient in oratorical skills that his handlers didn’t dare put him on a stage with Barrow.

John Barrow

Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta. AP/John Bazemore

The congressional district gave 55 percent of its vote to Mitt Romney. And 54 percent to Barrow.

Qualifying for the 12th District contest, along with hundreds of others, opens at the state Capitol on Monday.  And history may be poised to repeat itself.

For the better part of a year, the Republican race for the 12th District has been a two-man affair between Augusta businessman Rick Allen, a self-funder, and former congressional staffer John Stone.

This was to be a neat package cleanly settled with a May 20 primary.

But Allen turned in a disappointing campaign finance report in January – showing a mere $78,311 raised over the last three months of 2013, and $100,000 in cash on hand.

Now the GOP field has blossomed.

Last week, Eugene Yu, a Korean-born former defense contractor from Augusta, dropped out of the Republican race for U.S. Senate – and into the close-to-home contest.

But the most interesting new face belongs to two-term state Rep. Delvis Dutton, R-Glennville, the young owner of a well-drilling company on the hard-right side of the House GOP caucus. His is the first signature on HB 100, a measure to prohibit the confiscation of firearms during a state of emergency. (The Augusta Chronicle this weekend has a piece on Dutton’s past financial difficulties.)

We tried to catch up with Dutton over several days and were unsuccessful. But Joel McElhannon, a GOP consultant based in Athens, gave this assessment.

“He’s a presentable guy. He can talk farm — I see the appeal of that. [But] Delvis has never been tested before, never been in a campaign — a real campaign. This is a national profile, targeted, top-10 race,” he said.

What makes this unusual, McElhannon said, is that Dutton is the preferred candidate of the National Republican Congressional Committee – the multi-million dollar organization devoted to supporting U.S. House candidates.

“The NRCC basically got Delvis in the race. They’re running his campaign, ran his whole launch. They had a staff person on the ground in Georgia, coordinating his announcement,” the consultant said.

An NRCC-tested firm is doing his media and polling, McElhannon added.

Why would this be important? Because an NRCC-backed candidate would essentially amount to a declaration of no confidence in the rest of the GOP field.

We sent an email to the NRCC in Washington, and got a call back from political director Rob Simms – who served as Karen Handel’s chief of staff in Atlanta when she was secretary of state.

“The NRCC does not endorse or pick sides in Republican primary. Nor did we recruit Delvis Dutton,” Simms said. But he acknowledged having an NRCC staffer on site when Dutton announced his candidacy last month.

“Our job is to talk to and have relationships with the candidates who are running,” said Simms, adding that the NRCC has had similar contact with other GOP candidates in the 12th District contest.

We posed the same question to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, who is deputy chairman of the NRCC. Here’s the quote from Westmoreland that his staff emailed back:

“I’ve told (NRCC) staff that we need to stay out of that primary. I am convinced, with the field that we’ve got, that our nominee, whomever that may be, can beat John Barrow in November.”

Westmoreland’s statement seems to imply that an intervention in the 12th District has occurred – or, at the very least, has been discussed. The congressman’s office declined to elaborate. (To be fair, Westmoreland was at a funeral on Friday.)

But it appears that, in addition to another expensive primary runoff, the GOP race for the 12th District also includes some upper-crust, closed-door dissension.

Sometime this week, the elusive Barrow will make his way to Atlanta, to re-up for his congressional seat. He will have his fingers crossed, hoping that another snipe hunt is about to begin.

46 comments
Peachs
Peachs

When gerrymandering swipes all the Democratic votes under the rug and pretends they don’t exist, you have in essence created at least one position for a predominant Democrat. Other Deep South states are far more rural and have an endless bench for conservative vote, and hurt themselves little by gerrymandering their tight races. Georgia is much closer to the middle and particular in a college area like Athens. There is a new conservative in the south, one who believes in small government, but does not believe in the hate of immigration and gay bashing. They have no other choice but to vote Democrat, the other side is such an extreme and uneducated bunch. Seem the right would find that quality of candidate in their mix that shows the character these candidates sorely lack. Until they do it is a closed shop by default.

creative
creative

If I lived there I would vote for the Korean republican. That should piss off the commie dems and the redneck republicans. I love it. Please whomever you are....stay in the race

Armydawg
Armydawg

Allen West is originally from that district, Get him home to run!!!!!

cc423
cc423

Republicans have done a bang up job keeping this State in lousy shape. By all means reward them with more seats and watch us collapse for good.

SueEllenEwing
SueEllenEwing

Republicans have destroyed anything resembling democracy.

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

John Barrow is great.  I hope he wins reelection.  A prominent  Republican down here told me the other day about the conflicts in the GOP.  He told me that since Allen couldn't beat that illiterate dude who ran against John last time, he wouldn't support Allen this time.  Besides, Allen contributed to democrats, which made the republicans dislike him 2 yrs ago.

I'm worried about who will replace our crappy US rep here, since he is running for senator.  You know, he's the republican who thinks poor kids should have to sweep the cafeteria floors in order to get their "free" lunches.  Our GOP US rep doesn't have any empathy for the poor, just for the NRA and republicans and the tea party.  I sure hope that Nunn wins the senate race.

And that John Barrow stays in congress.  He represents my horses who board in his county.  Unless the GOP has gerrymandered that district again as it's done so many times, trying unsuccessfully to get rid of John.

anothercomment
anothercomment

I believe that the Fortune 100 business upper echelon who came South 20-35 years ago when I did. When Georgia was a thriving state and was a blue state. Are now realizing that the crazies have invaded the Republican party. The Republicans who are the moderate business oriented in New York, Illinois, and other Northern or Midwestern states, not Religious zealots, not a bunch or raciest bigots, that are willing to kill business.

TinaTrent
TinaTrent

Don't underestimate Mr. Yu.  He is tireless and sincere -- two powerful things too few candidates possess.  

mcdaviddawg
mcdaviddawg

Not surprising the Repubs can't find a candidate, the state may well have the worst of a bad lot Republican national party.  heir against abut 95% of us.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

I believe that before the year is out, the repups' primaries will make the events in Kiev look like a love-in from the sixties.The final candidates that emerge will look like extras from the Walking Dead set.

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

Here's a thought for the NRCC, I hear Allen West is looking for a job.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

I support many RINOs, and Blue Dog Democrats who don't push religious and abortion agendas.  Please note the following votes by John Barrow:
Voted YES on regulating the subprime mortgage industry. (Nov 2007), retire half the public debt by 2006. (May 2001), proposing a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution. (Jan 2011), on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006), on letting shareholders vote on executive compensation. (Apr 2007 & Jul 2009), on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling. (May 2011), on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. (Apr 2011), on reforming the UN by restricting US funding. (Jun 2005), against gun control, on building a fence along the Mexican border. (Sep 2006), YES on maintaining work requirement for welfare recipients. (Mar 2013); and voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009).

TrueBlueDem
TrueBlueDem

I have observed Delvis Dutton at the State Capitol. He is as described, a back-slapping good ol' boy with little oratorical skills and no apparent deep-seated commitment to anything at all...he's just glad to be at the Gold Dome party. The NRCC has done their usual Ready-Fire-Aim job. John Barrow will slice-and-dice Delvis Dutton very quickly.

honested
honested

What a breath of Georgia fresh air.


A qualified, sober, tested Congressman keeps winning over the gop 'kook of the month'.


If only the rest of the State could adopt this example!

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

A quote from the Augusta Chronicle regarding Delvis Dutton, the gun enthusiast being promoted by the Republicans:  "Dutton, the owner of General Pump and Well in Glennville and also a Republican legislator, has been the subject of at least 29 judgments against him and his company for a variety of creditors. The judgments include unpaid sales, property and withholding taxes, repeated instances of unpaid unemployment-insurance premiums for his workers and claims from banks and suppliers."  Sounds like shades of Paul Broun who refused to pay for a medical license but practiced anyway.  These people should not be involved in a Democracy - they are opposed to the rule of law and the welfare of all citizens.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Vote Democratic and change Georgia's U.S. Congress members from Republican to Democratic and Georgia's legislature from Republican-dominated to Democratic-dominated.  That is the only way to make things better in Georgia for middle and working class Georgians. 


Read the link below and sign up to be a part of a group called "Better Georgia." Work, with me, to turn Georgia Blue.


http://bettergeorgia.com/2013/10/13/alecs-corporate-stranglehold-on-georgia-laws

Gmare
Gmare

Good morning. Good column, Jim.

elbeedawg
elbeedawg

@anothercomment  New York, Illinois and other Northern or Midwestern states have suffered the consequences of liberal Democrat rule.  Bankruptcy, nanny state, etc.  There are no Republicans operating in the states you mention.  If you take off your blinders and really study history/facts, you will learn that the Right is more business friendly than the left.

honested
honested

@The_Centrist  

You make a good point.

It is a shame John is so consistently wrong on environmental issues.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@The_Centrist


Also, Speaker pro tem Jan Jones is sponsoring a bill, HR 990 I believe, that would give Georgia's Republican-dominated legislature the power to stop that part of Obamacare from being enacted that would expand Medicaid (paid anyway by our taxes to the federal government) for the working poor.  In other words, the power in that regard would move from the Governor to Georgia's Legislature.


See the link below, and sign the petition, therein, as I have done, to stop this Republican madness in Georgia.  Jan Jones and her ilk are not going to change.  The people must become aware and vote these Republicans out of office.  That is the only way.


http://bettergeorgia.com/content/georgias-hospital-crisis-grows-gov-deal-walks-away

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@The_Centrist


Everything is relative.  Barrow is still better than any Republican, at the present time. Republicans vote as a bloc for the most part, as citizens have unfortunately been witness to for years now. Aware Georgians know that this Republican voting bloc is controlled by those puppet-masters who pull strings with Republican congressional members in the U. S. Congress and also in Georgia's Republican-dominated legislature.  Even Speaker pro tem Jan Jones, who wields much power in Georgia's legislature, is one member, of the 90 members of Georgia's legislature who are members of ALEC (all Republicans).  See link below:


http://news.yahoo.com/gop-bar-poor-health-care-altogether-050010877.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory 

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@Ralph-43 Should be an interesting race as eugene yu and dutton claim to be the best stewards of the US treasury:

The proceeds of the two-day auction (of yu's bankrupt company) will be used to pay debts owed to 70 creditors. Four of those creditors, Regions Bank, Sudimat CA, Southeastern Equipment Co. and the federal Small Business Administration, secured liens against CMS for $3.3 million. (i.e. we paid for his incompetency as a business owner)


As the company's bankruptcy case is winding down, a federal lawsuit against its owners, Jonie and "Eugene" Chin Yu, is ramping up. Bankruptcy court trustee Ed Coleman III filed suit in March to recover $300,000 in property and money. Mr. Coleman alleged the Yus took money out of the business just before the Chapter 7 conversion.

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

@Gmare

did you see the "1" LIKE your post drew?  Galloway was right there waiting.

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

 Republicans just in the past 12 months shut down the government at a cost of $26 billion dollars in lost economic activity, and threatened to force a default on our debts, which would destroy the full faith and credit of the US Treasury.

Yeah business probably likes Republicans better then the Dems - but some of them are waking up to the disaster that the extremists in the Repub party are causing

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

@AuntieChrist Thanks Auntie Christ - looks worrisome for the economy if any of these so-called business men get elected.  Why are they running?  Maybe it is their last hope for a steady income.  No thanks.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@BookinWeasel


We, each, must make choices every day


The Democratic Party supports the interests of the working and middle classes of this nation and state. If you are part of the middle and working classes, then you should vote the Democratic Party ticket.  If you support the interests of the superwealthy and of the powerful few, then you should vote the Republican Party ticket.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Actually, you're just rambling...


Actually, they are called cliches. Something you seem to employ quite poorly.

Just sayin'.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Keep on drinking that Kool-Aid...

Well, an apple a day keeps the doctor away but if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door. Are you sure you aren't just clucking and bucking with the other hens, because it seems to me that you are driving your ducks to a poor pond. The early bird catches the worm, however, a fool and his money are soon parted. Get back upon the horse because the handwriting is on the wall.

Just sayin'.

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

@BookinWeasel @MaryElizabethSings@The_Centrist 

Bookin'...Boy, am I going to be on my toes.  You took the words outta my mouth.  Libtards don't vote as a bloc as this ignorant twit would have you believe.  Of course, as Liberals (Mantra #1): they are ALWAYS right so, why try arguing with brainless libs?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@BookinWeasel


Not like the Republicans. 


And, the Democrats don't draw upon an organization like ALEC, of several decades running, telling them how to vote, and even drawing up bills, literally, for them to bring before their state legislatures, as do Republicans.  There is no comparison between the parties in terms of which political party offers more autonomy to individual legislators, without incurring personal penalties.  Conservative Grover Norquist even produced a pledge for Republican U. S. Congressmen and women to sign, relative to tax increases, before they even entered Congress. That was a way out-of-balance use of hardball power tactics. That's one example of the current Republican Party's tactics to insist all Republican legislators vote in bloc or incur negative political consequences if they don't "play ball."