GOP lawmaker considers 12th District challenge





ATLANTA -- The Republican race for the chance to challenge Democratic Congressman John Barrow could get more crowded if state Rep. Delvis Dutton decides to enter it.

“We’re checking into it. We’re getting a lot of calls on it,” he said Wednesday. “But there’s been no desire, no commitment at all.”

Dutton, a Savannah native who lives in Glennville, would bring political experience to the contest after winning a special election in 2011 to the state House of Representatives. After winning re-election in 2012, he unsuccessfully challenged the chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, Donna Shelton of Dacula who had endorsed him in his 2011 special election, but he was decisively trounced in the caucus balloting.

He’s among the most conservative members of the House. He said his top priority this session is passage of House Bill 100 that he sponsored which would remove the power of governors to restrict the sale or use of firearms during a state of emergency. The House Judiciary Committee recommended it pass last year, but it never came up for a vote before the full House.

Dutton said he has no deadline for deciding if he’ll run for congress, although friends say privately he was gauging financial support with the intention of an announcement this week.

“There’s no deadline,” he said. “Just trying to be obedient (to God) every day. Get a question, find an answer kind of thing.”

If Dutton enters the May 20 primary, he’ll have to play catch-up to John Stone and Rick Allen who have both run in the district before and have already been campaigning for nearly a year each.

That will present a high hurdle to Dutton, who hails from a rural part of the district and has little name recognition, according to William M. Harris, adjunct political-science professor at Georgia Regents University.

Dutton’s unsuccessful challenge to the state House leadership suggests he doesn’t have the political skills or backing to succeed, Harris said.

“That may mean that support within the party is not that great,” he said, adding that Dutton’s speaking style is less polished than his rivals. “If you want to get the votes, you’ve got to be somehow persuasive.”

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