SAVANNAH, Ga. — U.S. Rep. Rep. John Barrow, formerly of Athens and Savannah, is now a resident of Augusta after Georgia political mapmakers essentially forced the Democratic to move for the second time since he won election to Congress eight years ago.
Real estate records reviewed by The Associated Press show that Barrow bought a home in Augusta on March 15. He sold his house in Savannah the same day for $260,000.
The Augusta Chronicle found that property records filed in Richmond County Superior Court show Barrow paid $234,400 for a house in the 3200 block of Wheeler Road on March 15.
“He’s officially made the move,” Barrow spokesman Peyton Bell said Thursday. “He basically did it in one weekend.”
Barrow opted to move rather than seek re-election as an outsider to his own district after the Republican-controlled state Legislature redrew Georgia’s congressional map last year. The changes carved Savannah, Barrow’s home for six years, out of his 12th District seat.
The Democrat initially ran for Congress in 2004 from his hometown of Athens, which lawmakers dropped from the district before Barrow’s first re-election campaign two years later. That prompted his move to Savannah in 2006.
Congressmen don’t have to live in their districts, but being seen as an outsider can turn off voters.
“It’s his personal policy to live in the district he represents,” Bell said of Barrow.
As the last white Democrat from the Deep South serving in the House, Barrow is a top target for Republicans trying to pick up congressional seats this fall. The National Republican Congressional Committee has already begun using automated phone calls to take aim at the incumbent in his new district, which replaced Democrat-leaning Savannah with more conservative rural and suburban communities.
By losing Savannah, Barrow lost not just his home but a chunk of the black voters who make up a large part of his Democratic base. However, the self-described “flaming moderate” has worked hard to appeal to crossover voters and has been known to buck President Barack Obama — most prominently by voting against the president’s overhaul of the health care system.
Four Republicans are seeking the nomination to challenge Barrow — Augusta construction company owner Rick W. Allen, farmer and state Rep. Lee Anderson of Grovetown, Evans attorney Wright McLeod and Maria Sheffield, an attorney who moved from metro Atlanta to Dublin in southeast Georgia to seek the House seat.