Previewing the Georgia House Runoffs
Two Republican House primary runoffs in Georgia have a distinct inside-outside feel as voters gather Tuesday for the second time in three weeks. In both Republican-leaning districts -- one a new, open seat created by redistricting, and the other a prime pickup opportunity currently held by Democratic Rep. John Barrow -- a state legislator is up against a political newcomer, and both insiders have Republican Gov. Nathan Deal's late imprimatur.
In the 12th District, where redistricting made Barrow one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the nation, state Rep. Lee Anderson and businessman Rick Allen are competing for the Republican nod. Anderson finished a clear first in the initial July 31 primary, but he only took 34 percent of the vote in a four-candidate field. Allen squeaked into second place with 26 percent, just ahead of another challenger.
The Republicans are already linking Barrow with President Obama in preparation for the fall campaign -- as is the National Republican Congressional Committee, which released its first TV ad against Barrow last week -- but Anderson and Allen have mostly trained their fire on each other over the last three weeks.
Both candidates aired TV ads accusing the other of conservative apostasies including raising taxes and supporting Democratic candidates. Deal gave Anderson a late endorsement and a robocall, and while 34 percent isn't a strong starting point for a runoff, Anderson has the inside track for a contest that usually replicates the first-round results.
In Georgia's 9th District, state Rep. Doug Collins is also matched up against a political outsider, radio host Martha Zoller, and the race has become something of a proxy battle between the traditional "mountain conservatives" of the district and the ascendant tea party. In addition to Deal, Collins has former conservative Democratic Sen. Zell Miller in his corner, while Sarah Palin chimed in on Zoller's side.