Rep. Sanford Bishop (D)
Georgia 2nd District
Before the Civil War, the southwest corner of Georgia was plantation country. This is where the Confederate Army ran the Andersonville military prison, which killed about 13,000 of the 45,000 Union soldiers confined there, through disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding and exposure. They are remembered at the National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville, which is dedicated to all Americans who have endured wartime captivity. Today, the military is still a strong presence, and bases in the area have been largely unscathed by several rounds of closings in recent years. Fort Benning is the Army’s third largest installation, home of the Army Infantry School and the Army Armor Center and School. Benning can train as many as 16,000 soldiers at a time. As a boost to the otherwise gloomy local economy, its workforce in 2013 is expected to be 41,600, including transfers as a result of the military’s overseas downsizing.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
But the region is mostly farmland: Cotton and peanuts are major crops, and pecans are also grown here. Near the Florida border is Cairo, the birthplace of baseball’s black pioneer Jackie Robinson; Plantation Trace, near Thomasville, is where rich Northerners have come to shoot quail and ducks in winter since the 1880s, a part of Georgia culture memorialized in Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full. A bit to the north is Albany, with several factories, a civil rights museum and the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s least successful civil rights protests in the 1960s. Not far from Albany, between upland pine stands and bottomland habitats, lies the Chickasawatchee Swamp, one of the Southeast’s largest freshwater swamps and home to rare plant species such as the needle palm and the green fly orchid. Two counties north is the village of Plains, the home since childhood of former President Jimmy Carter, who has said he wants to be buried in his front yard. Plains now has a major biofuels factory. This is still hardscrabble country: As recently as World War II, most rural residents lived in clapboard cabins without power or running water, eking a living out of over-tilled soil.
This is Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District. In the 2005 redistricting, it lost virtually all of Valdosta, but increased to two-thirds its share of Columbus and Muscogee County. Eight rural counties between Columbus and Macon were added. The net effect was to raise the African-American population in the district from 45% to 48%. President Bush won here in 2004, but with only 50.02%. In 2008, Barack Obama took Muscogee County 60%-40%, and the district as a whole voted for Obama 54%-45%.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: Feb. 4, 1947, Mobile, AL .
Education: Morehouse Col., B.A. 1968, Emory U., J.D. 1971.
Family: Married (Vivian Creighton Bishop); 1 child.
Military career: Army, 1970–71.
Elected office: GA House of Reps., 1976–90; GA Senate, 1990–92.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1971–92.
The congressman from the 2d District is Sanford Bishop, a Democrat first elected in 1992. Bishop grew up in Mobile, Ala., where his father was a college president. He went to Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he was student body president in 1968 and sang at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral. He went to Emory Law School, then served in the Army. After a year in New York, he settled in Columbus to practice law. He was elected to the state Legislature in 1976 at age 29. He served there until 1990, when he was elected to the Georgia Senate. In 1992, he ran for the U.S. House against Democratic Rep. Charles Hatcher, who, with more than 800 check overdrafts, was tarred by the House bank scandal that year. Bishop defeated Hatcher in the runoff 53%-47% and won the general election 64%-36%.
|Sanford Bishop (D)||158,435||(69%)||($1,034,540)|
|Lee Ferrell (R)||71,351||(31%)||($10)|
|Sanford Bishop (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (68%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (100%), 2000 (54%), 1998 (57%), 1996 (54%), 1994 (66%), 1992 (64%)
Bishop is a moderate Democrat who calls himself a “traditionalist” on cultural issues. His style is nonconfrontational. Along with Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., he has a voting record that’s among the most conservative in the Congressional Black Caucus. He is also a member of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats and supported a balanced budget, school prayer, a ban on flag burning and a proposed amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. He was one of 10 House Democrats to vote for President Bush's tax cuts in 2001.
In 2003, Bishop won a long-sought seat on the Appropriations Committee. He has worked to safeguard his district’s military facilities and has delivered funds to its military installations. Bishop also has been active on farm programs. He worked with the Republican House majority in 1996 on the Freedom to Farm Act to fashion a “market-oriented, no-net cost” program for peanuts. In 2002, he helped to craft the scaled-back program for peanut support, which was based on phasing out quotas and price guarantees. On the 2008 farm bill, he again was focused on the peanut farmers in his district. He helped design the peanut-rotation program, which he said encourages “a cleaner, greener method of planting while ensuring an affordable and accessible supply to the markets that rely on U.S.-grown peanuts.”
After the Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Bishop was considered for the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee, but it ultimately went to Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas. Instead, Bishop gained seats on the constituent-friendly Agriculture, Defense and Military Construction subcommittees at Appropriations. In 2007, he got committee approval for $74 million for peanut storage in the Iraq War supplemental spending bill. When Bush objected, Bishop responded that the money would help farmers compete internationally. In 2008, he won passage of an amendment to the defense spending bill that provided 180 days of health care for military members who transition from active to reserve status.
In 2000, Bishop faced serious re-election competition from Dylan Glenn, a former aide to George H.W. Bush on the staff of the Republican National Committee. The contest between two African-Americans in a rural, then majority-white district was unprecedented, but race was not an issue in the campaign. Bishop largely ignored the challenger and ran on his record, while Glenn offered the perspective of a new generation focusing on economic growth. Bishop won 54%-46%. Redistricting changes made a serious challenge less likely. Bishop contemplated a run in 2008 against Sen. Saxby Chambliss, but decided to stay in the House, where his seniority gives him growing influence. He was an early supporter of Democrat Barack Obama for president, though his wife, Vivian Creighton Bishop, who is prominent at home as the municipal court clerk for Muscogee County, actively backed Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.