Rep. Jim Marshall (D)
Georgia 8th District
The hub of central Georgia, Macon is a city proud of its restored houses and its Japanese cherry trees, which it shows off during its annual International Cherry Blossom Festival. It is the home of music legends Otis Redding, James Brown, Little Richard, and the Allman Brothers, and of the Harriet Tubman Historical and Cultural Museum. Surrounding Macon are the farm and forest lands of central Georgia. Much of this land was the site of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s 1864 march from Atlanta to the sea. Twiggs and Wilkinson counties have been among the world’s major sources of kaolin, a clay used for china and ceramics. A short drive north on Interstate 75 is Juliette, an old mill town that’s too small for most maps. Many scenes in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes were filmed there. In 2008, the area suffered from major job losses in manufacturing and health care services, and construction of a new tire plant was delayed.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 8th Congressional District of Georgia includes all of Macon and Bibb County and stretches about 200 miles north and south, from fast-growing Newton County in metro Atlanta to Colquitt County nearly at the Florida border. About one-half of its votes are cast in the five-county Macon metro area. From 2000 to 2007, Bibb County had virtually no change in population. With its Air Logistics Center and testing and repair site for the F-22 Raptor, Robins Air Force Base and the surrounding city of Warner Robins have grown significantly in recent years. This was Democratic country from the time of Gen. Sherman’s march until the civil-rights revolution of the 1960s. Today the political balance is different. More than 70% of whites usually vote Republican. About 90% of blacks usually vote Democratic. So the political leanings of any district in this part of Georgia depend on the racial percentages. Redistricters in 2005 significantly changed the district with the goal of electing a Republican. It was renumbered from the 3rd to the 8th, and its shape was elongated to add new Republican territory. Slightly more than half of the population was new to the district in the 2006 election, and the new lines reduced the black population from 40% to 33%. President Bush’s 2004 performance in this district was 61%, up from 55% four years earlier. In 2008, Republican John McCain won the district 56%-43%.
Rep. Jim Marshall (D)
Elected: 2002, 4th term.
Born: March 31, 1948, Ithaca, NY .
Education: Princeton U., B.A. 1972, Boston U., J.D. 1977.
Family: Married (Camille); 2 children.
Military career: Army, 1968-70 (Vietnam).
Elected office: Macon mayor, 1995-99.
Professional Career: Mercer U. law professor, 1979-95, 1999-2002.
The congressman from the 8th District is Democrat Jim Marshall, first elected in 2002. The son and grandson of Army generals, he grew up at several Army posts. He graduated from high school in Mobile, Ala., and went on to Princeton University. But he interrupted his education to enlist in the Army and volunteer for infantry combat during the Vietnam War. He served in the elite Airborne Ranger reconnaissance platoon, was wounded in combat, and was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. After his military service, he graduated from Princeton and Boston University Law School. He joined the faculty of Mercer University law school in Macon, practiced business law, and became active in Democratic politics. His wife, Camille, is a federal bankruptcy trustee.
|Jim Marshall (D)||157,241||(57%)||($1,736,540)|
|Rick Goddard (R)||117,446||(43%)||($1,192,303)|
|Jim Marshall (D)||44,211||(86%)|
|Robert Nowak (D)||7,396||(14%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (51%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (51%)
In his first political contest, Marshall was elected mayor of Macon in 1995. He made his first run for Congress in 2000 against Rep. Saxby Chambliss in the old 8th District. He campaigned almost exclusively on making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors, and lost 59%-41%. When Democrats redrew the district, Marshall quickly entered the contest and made his military experience the centerpiece of his 2002 campaign. Against three opponents in the Democratic primary, his toughest competitor was politically connected attorney Chuck Byrd, whose father was a former lieutenant governor. Byrd ran as a conservative in the tradition of former conservative Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and as an opponent of abortion rights. But Marshall carried Bibb County solidly and won 54% of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. In the general election, Marshall faced Bibb County Commissioner Calder Clay, an energetic fundraiser who claimed Marshall was too liberal for the district. Marshall emphasized his military record; Clay had not served in the military. Both supported President Bush on Iraq. In one of 2002’s closest contests, Marshall won 50.5%-49.5%.
In the House, Marshall’s voting record puts him among the most conservative Democrats. In March 2003, on the day after hostilities began in Iraq, Marshall showed up, uninvited, at a press conference convened by a group of anti-war House Democrats. “The time for debate is past,” he announced. He then invoked an obscure House rule to cancel a Democratic Caucus meeting organized to debate war alternatives. After a September 2003 visit to Iraq, he criticized news coverage of the war for focusing disproportionately on setbacks. In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion article, he urged Democrats to “carefully avoid using the language of failure,” which he said could be “unforgivably self-fulfilling.” He has made several trips to Iraq to follow the progress of the war. In 2007, he was one of two Democrats to vote against a resolution condemning the military surge in Iraq. He called the proposal “akin to sitting on the sidelines and booing in the middle of our own team’s play, because we don’t like the coach’s call.” In 2008, he continued to oppose timetables for withdrawal.
Marshall avidly backed legislation to permit veterans to receive full retirement pay plus disability compensation at the same time. In 2005, he turned his attention to changing another inequity for veterans: an 1891 law that required a dollar-for-dollar offset for those receiving both retirement pay and disability compensation. In 2007, he joined 95 House Republicans and one other Democrat who objected to House action on a bill to allow illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship. And in January 2008, Marshall was the only House Democrat who voted to sustain Bush’s veto of a major expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
In 2004, Marshall turned down pleas from national and state Democrats to run for the Senate seat left open by Democrat Zell Miller’s retirement. Instead, he faced a rematch with Calder Clay. In an unexpectedly strong showing, Marshall won 63%-37%. In 2006, Republicans nominated former Rep. Mac Collins, who served six terms before running unsuccessfully in 2004 for the Republican Senate nomination. Marshall, with the advantage of greater name recognition in the Macon area, ran against “extremists on both sides.” Collins ran ads criticizing Marshall for support of Democratic policies. The result was one of the closest in the nation and took a week before it became official. Marshall won by 1,752 votes. His margin of victory came in Bibb County, which he took 63%-37%.
In 2007, Senate Democrats encouraged Marshall to challenge Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss for re-election in 2008, but he declined. In his bid for re-election in 2008, he faced Republican Rick Goddard, the former commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, who was heavily recruited by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Goddard ran a conventional Republican campaign in a Democratic-leaning year, with emphasis on more energy production and campaign appearances by Bush and Vice President Cheney. Marshall won by a comfortable 57%-43%.