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Democrat

Rep. John Barrow (D)

John Barrow Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-2823

Address: 2202 RHOB, DC 20515

John Barrow Biography
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  • Elected: 2004, 5th term.
  • District: Georgia 12
  • Born: Oct. 31, 1955, Athens
  • Home: Augusta
  • Education:

    U. of GA, B.A. 1976, Harvard U., J.D. 1979

  • Professional Career:

    Practicing atty, 1981-2004.

  • Political Career:

    Athens-Clarke City-Co. comm., 1990-2004.

  • Religion:

    Baptist

  • Family: Divorced; 2 children

John Barrow, whose family has been rooted in Georgia for seven generations, is the only remaining white House Democrat representing a state in the Deep South. Hard-working and politically savvy, he has survived numerous Republican attempts to dislodge him by remaining one of his party’s most conservative members and by becoming a creative campaigner. Read More

John Barrow, whose family has been rooted in Georgia for seven generations, is the only remaining white House Democrat representing a state in the Deep South. Hard-working and politically savvy, he has survived numerous Republican attempts to dislodge him by remaining one of his party’s most conservative members and by becoming a creative campaigner.

Barrow’s father handled school desegregation cases as a lawyer and as a Superior Court judge in the Athens area. A graduate of the University of Georgia and Harvard Law School, Barrow became a trial lawyer and made his name in local politics by winning four terms as an Athens-Clarke County commissioner. In 2004, he decided to run against Republican Rep. Max Burns, who had won the 12th District seat in an upset in 2002.

Barrow raised more than $700,000 and, with the endorsements of former Sen. Max Cleland, the Sierra Club, and the Georgia AFL-CIO, extended his appeal beyond his home base. He won 52% of the vote and all 14 counties in the district, enough to avoid a runoff. In the general election, Barrow distanced himself from Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and the national party. He focused on Burns’ support of a national retail sales tax to replace the income tax, attacking the proposal as anti-family and labeling it “the Max Tax.” Burns accused Barrow of distorting his proposal and called his opponent a “liberal trial attorney” controlled by “Atlanta party bosses.” Burns ran well in rural areas, but Barrow won big margins among African-American voters in the three counties that, at the time, cast two-thirds of the district’s votes.

In the House, Barrow regularly breaks from his party on major legislation. He supported fellow Blue Dog Coalition member Heath Shuler of North Carolina over liberal Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader after their party lost its majority in 2010 and fellow Georgia Rep. John Lewis over Pelosi in 2013. He voted against the New Year’s Day 2013 deal on tax and spending policy that President Barack Obama forged with Republicans, aimed at averting the so-called fiscal cliff. He supported issuing contempt-of-Congress charges against Attorney General Eric Holder over the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking program, and he backed a Republican-backed payroll tax cut extension. Earlier, he voted against the 2010 health care overhaul, contending it would cost too much and fail to halt abuses by insurance companies. But he did not join the subsequent GOP attempts to repeal the law, arguing that it was better to work to improve it.

In 2007, Democratic leaders gave Barrow a leading role in pushing for an increase in the minimum wage, and he secured a seat on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. But he declined to back the 2009 energy and climate change bill, which, with health care, was the other major bill to emerge from Energy and Commerce in the 111th Congress (2009-10). He complained that the national renewable energy mandate was too high. Although bill sponsors agreed to weaken the standard, Barrow still voted against it. In 2008, after an explosion at a sugar refinery near Savannah, Barrow won House passage of his bill to force the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to tighten rules on industrial dust.

Barrow’s political life was made more difficult by the 2005redistricting, which moved his Clarke County base into the heavily Republican 10th District. He said he would run in the new district that included the largest part of his former district, which turned out to be the 12th. Barrow moved his residence to Savannah and emphasized his independence. “No boss, no leader, no caucus can tell me how to vote. And none of them has,” he declared. Burns ran against him and got fundraising help from national Republicans. The outcome was even closer this time, 50.3%-49.7%. Barrow won only eight of 22 counties, but he captured 62% of the vote in Chatham and 65% in Richmond, the two largest counties.

In 2008, Barrow faced state Sen. Regina Thomas, an African-American, in the Democratic primary. Although a liberal group ran ads criticizing Barrow for supporting President George W. Bush on tax cuts and the Iraq war, he won 76%-24%. In November, he won reelection easily, 66%-34%, against Republican John Stone.

Two years later, angered by Barrow’s vote against the health care overhaul, Thomas returned for a rematch. However, she again had little success raising money and Barrow won the 2010 primary with 60%. His general election opponent was Ray McKinney, a Republican nuclear engineer and a favorite of tea party activists. He drew from the GOP playbook by trying to tie Barrow to Pelosi, but the lawmaker cited his record of independence. Even so, he left nothing to chance. The Savannah Morning News reported that he sent mailers to some voters boasting of working “hand-in-hand” with President Obama and a different one to others saying he “stood up to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Washington.” He won with 57%, escaping the fate of many other Blue Dogs that year.

Republicans were in control of redistricting in 2011, after the previous year’s census, and they again tried to make life difficult for Barrow by redrawing the 12th to remove his Savannah home. Undaunted, Barrow moved to Augusta and touted his endorsement from the National Rifle Association while lambasting his opponent, state Rep. Lee Anderson, for refusing to debate him.

Political observers praised Barrow’s effective ads. In one, he ticked off wasteful spending he opposed that managed to be both substantive and humorous. “I voted to eliminate funding for genetic research on grapes,” he said in the spot. “We already have seedless.” In another spot, he appealed to both African-Americans and gun owners by pulling out a pistol and saying, “Long before I was born, my grandfather used this little Smith & Wesson here to help stop a lynching.” He won with relative ease, 54%-46%. Afterward, Augusta attorney Wright McLeod, who lost to Anderson in the GOP primary, told The Associated Press: “His ability to withstand this district makes him even more formidable in two years.”

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John Barrow Election Results
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2012 General
John Barrow (D)
Votes: 139,148
Percent: 53.7%
Lee Anderson (R)
Votes: 119,973
Percent: 46.3%
2012 Primary
John Barrow (D)
Votes: 41,587
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (57%), 2008 (66%), 2006 (50%), 2004 (52%)
John Barrow Votes and Bills
Back to top NJ Vote Ratings

National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 54 (L) : 46 (C) 54 (L) : 45 (C) 57 (L) : 43 (C)
Social 54 (L) : 46 (C) 56 (L) : 43 (C) 58 (L) : 42 (C)
Foreign 47 (L) : 52 (C) 54 (L) : 46 (C) 57 (L) : 42 (C)
Composite 51.8 (L) : 48.2 (C) 55.0 (L) : 45.0 (C) 57.5 (L) : 42.5 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC2050
LCV4620
CFG1851
ITIC-67
NTU3547
20112012
COC75-
ACLU-38
ACU2060
ADA5020
AFSCME57-
Key House Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Find AG in contempt
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Speed troop withdrawal
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop detainee transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Limit campaign funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $820 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let guns in national parks
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass cap-and-trade
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar federal abortion funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Repeal D.C. gun law
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase minimum wage
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Share immigration data
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Foreign aid abortion ban
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Ban gay bias in workplace
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 8/08
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • No operations in Iran
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Free trade with Peru
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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