Area Republicans are celebrating Monday's arrival of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner as a sign that Grovetown state Rep. Lee Anderson is headed to victory over Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.
Boehner, an 11-term congressman from Ohio, will campaign for Anderson at a $250-a-head fundraiser Monday night at the West Lake home of Martinez businessman Wayne Brown.
Boehner’s appearance, on the heels of a appearance Thursday by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for Anderson in Sandy Springs, speaks to the high-profile nature of the House race. An Anderson win, along with a victory by state Rep. Doug Collins in the new 14th Congressional District, could shift Georgia’s GOP delegation in Congress from eight to 10.
The 12th Congressional District was redrawn by the Legislature last year to lessen Barrow’s chances of winning a fifth term, though most observers consider the district a toss-up. A poll released Friday by the Democratic group House Majority PAC gave Barrow the lead by a margin of 48 percent to 45 percent, within the margin of error of 4.9 percent.
Boehner has met Anderson on a few occasions and “expects Lee will be a strong, independent voice on behalf of Georgians who want to change course after four years of President Obama’s failed economic policies” if elected, Boehner spokesman Cory Fritz said.
The Grovetown farmer’s campaign has linked Barrow tightly to Obama. Barrow reminded The Augusta Chronicle in an interview last week of his votes against approving Obama’s health care overhaul, cap and trade and the bank bailout.
Hosts of Monday’s event include former Augusta Commissioner Don Grantham, now a member of the Georgia Department of Transportation Board; Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross; and longtime area GOP official Dave Barbee.
“It’s been a good six or eight years since we had somebody at that level here,” said Debbie McCord of Evans, the campaign chairwoman for Georgia Republican Women and an assistant secretary for the Georgia Republican Party. “It’s a very big deal.”
Having Boehner headline the event is sure to raise a lot of money for Anderson as people buy tickets just to be in the speaker’s presence, said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor who considers the 12th District race “the most interesting thing that’s happening electorally this year.”
Boehner’s visit could sway voters undecided about Anderson, while Anderson could use time with the speaker to line up potential committee appointments, Bullock said.
Barbee said he last recalled a House speaker coming to Augusta for Max Burns’ 2004 race against Barrow.
“If the district was not in play for Lee to win, they would not be here,” Barbee said. “We’re in October and it’s winnable and they know it, and that’s why they’re here.”