Blue Dog (and virulent Bush Dog) John Barrow (GA-12) always thought he would be vulnerable from the right. So he moved so far right that he’s usually the Democrat most likely to vote with the GOP in the entire Democratic caucus. CQ Politics reports that his political demise looks like it will come from the Georgia Democratic Party mainstream, not the far right.
For the last few weeks he has called every African-American he knows to beg them to ask respected state Senator Regina Thomas to not run against him. And on May 2 even I got a letter from Barrow, begging for help!
I wanted to update you on my race and thought you’d appreciate a news report about my primary challenge. Because of this new development, I’m going to have to spend substantially more money in the primary election than I had previously planned.
The implications aren’t just confined to the primary. I’m now going to have to do things in June and July that I was hoping I’d be able to do– for the first time in 3 general elections– in August and September. Unless I can raise what I will have to spend in the primary in addition to what I was planning to spend in the general, I will once again be vulnerable to massive infusions of outside money that will begin to pound on me before I’m able to defend myself.
OpenSecrets.org reports he has $1,311,478 cash on hand (as of March 31), most of it from PACs. Between them, his 3 potential Republican opponents have $53,000 cash on hand. Maybe he’s not worried about these 3. In fact, if Barrow is going to be defeated, it will be by Senator Thomas, a mainstream progressive Georgia Democrat.
Before we meet Senator Thomas I want to share a few lines of Lincoln Chafee’s that I found very poignant and that have been brought to mind more than once when I have been on the phone with Senator Thomas. This passage comes from a chapter in Against The Tide in which he’s describing the immediate aftermath of Bush’s 2000 powergrab.
The men and women of the Black Caucus implored us to reject the inevitability of a presidency of George W. Bush. Their pleas seemed more than merely political; I saw in them a genuine fear of what might lie ahead if Governor Bush were elevated to the presidency.
Of course, if we senators had known then how far this new administration would go to undercut the Congress– to wage war whenever it pleases, for however long, at whatever cost– I think many of my colleagues would have answered the pleas of the Black Caucus that day.
I know I would have.
The members of the caucus were simply more attuned than the rest of us to picking up the danger signals coming from the extreme right, perhaps because the right had incited such ugly racial suspicions and even hatred in winning the Republican South Carolina primary for Bush.
But they didn’t and he didn’t and… we all know what happened because not enough people had the guys to stand up for America, to stand up for what was right.
In the last few weeks that I’ve gotten to know Regina Thomas, I’ve gotten to know a woman, a grandmother and a deeply caring fighter who will always stand up… regardless of what anybody says. Once the Deputy Majority Whip of the Georgia House, since 2000 she has been a senator representing the 2nd district, which includes part of her native Savannah and portions of Chathan County.
I know I’m going to catch hell from her later– she insists on a clean positive campaign and she keeps lecturing me– but I just want to remind everyone that the incumbent she’s running against, John Barrow in a virtual 3-way tie with Nick Lampson and Jim Marshall as the Democrats who have voted most frequently to rubber stamp Bush’s agenda. As a little surprise for Senator Thomas, singer Jason Joseph and his team worked on a brand new song and video clip for her campaign. No one who wasn’t working on it has seen until today:
I asked her why she decided to run for Congress. She told me that even as she attended to the business of her local constituency she’s been watching national politics for a long time. "I’ve been dissatisfied with the direction of this country. The issues that are being put on the front burner– in front of the voters during the election year– are non-issues. I know we can do better in coming up with solutions that will help all Americans solve the very real problems we face… I know that I wouldn’t have had an opposition in my senate race if I chose to run again. But it isn’t about me; it’s about all of us. We need people in Congress who are going to be accessible, accountable and who are going to be dependable. We need people who are going to be honest and who are going to talk to people in a straight forward manner and not play with words."
Everyone in Georgia who has talked to me about Senator Thomas would recognize the description she just painted as a self-portrait. Rarely have I come across a politician who has served for so many years with such a sterling reputation for integrity and sincerity. On top of that, Senator Thomas has incredible instincts. She seems to be most concerned with the bread and butter issues that are of the greatest concern to the average citizen. Her work in the state legislature has involved issues that directly affect people’s lives, like health care, education, housing, employment. But no matter what issue I asked her about — from Iraq, to retroactive immunity and warrantless wiretaps, to gay equality– she’s right where progressives want their representatives to be.
But can she win? Well Larry Peterson at the Savannah Morning News explains why the district’s demographics favor Regina. "We’ve previously noted that 69.4 percent of the presidential primary voters in the 12th were– like Thomas– black. But, from Barrow’s perspective, it gets worse: 45 percent were black females. And only 11.9 percent were white males."
One more thing before we hear from Regina Thomas herself. She needs our help in terms of donations and volunteers. You can donate to her campaign at our Blue America page. And Matt Keating has been generous enough to donate 25 copies of his brand new CD, Quixotic, and the first 25 donors who contribute at least $30 to Senator Thomas’ campaign will get a little thank you from Blue America with that CD.