Political Insider

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Barrow locks up support from big-name Dems – and a few GOPers  

The centrist Democrat is hoping to flip Georgia’s Secretary of State office

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow tried to show Monday he had locked up Democratic support – and swayed some Republican elected officials – with a lengthy list of endorsements for his Secretary of State bid.

His supporters include virtually all of Georgia’s leading Democrats: Former Gov. Roy Barnes; ex-U.S. Sens. Max Cleland, Wyche Fowler and Sam Nunn; U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop, John Lewis and David Scott; former Reps. Buddy Darden, Don Johnson, Elliot Levitas, Jim Marshall; ex-Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. 

That list also includes a rising generation of state Democrats: Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee; newly-elected state Reps. Teri Anulewicz and Bee Nguyen; freshman state Sen. Jen Jordan; Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church.  

It’s meant as a show of force ahead of a May primary that also features Democratic state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler and former Rockdale Tax Commissioner R.J. Hadley. The two have an uphill climb. Financial disclosures show Barrow has raised about $340,000, while his adversaries amassed less than $5,000 apiece. 

Democrats see this open seat as a juicy down-ticket offering. Four Republicans are in the race to succeed Brian Kemp, who is running for governor: Alpharetta Mayor David Bell Isle, state Reps. Buzz Brockway and Brad Raffensperger, and state Sen. Josh McKoon.

But Democrats are particularly eager for a matchup against McKoon, an outspoken supporter of “religious liberty” legislation who this year is sponsoring a measure that would require the state government to communicate largely in English only. 

And Barrow, who was the last white Democrat from the Deep South in the U.S. House, hopes a centrist voting record that frequently bucked his party’s leaders will help him sway enough independents and conservatives to win in November. 

His list of endorsements was dotted with the names of Republicans who had already crossed party lines to back him. They include Appling County Commissioner Sarah Boatright, Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry, Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown and Candler County Commission chair Glyn Thrift. 

Read more: Out of Congress, Georgia’s Barrow is in another highly competitive race


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.