U.S. Rep. John Barrow has amassed more than $900,000 for what is widely seen as an uphill re-election bid in new political territory.
A report to the Federal Election Commission indicates the Savannah Democrat district includes much of the Augusta area raised more than $272,000 in the third quarter of last year.
He’s seeking a fifth term in a new Republican-leaning district where four GOP candidates have emerged so far and three have raised substantial sums.
Barrow’s third-quarter take nearly matched the $284,000 he collected over the previous three months.
“I think it shows he is strong for re-election,” said spokesman Peyton Bell.
But Barrow will run on political turf recently stripped of its Democrat-leaning Chatham County areas, where his home has a for sale sign.
GOP groups say his 12th Congressional District offers one of their best chances to pick up a seat and already have launched anti-Barrow TV ads and robo-call blitzes.
“He’s one of our top targets,” said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Although he sometimes bucks Democratic President Barack Obama on key issues, Bozek and other Republican operatives portray him as an Obama clone.
The GOP-dominated legislature last year replaced his Chatham political base with Republican-heavy areas in Richmond and Columbia counties and elsewhere.
Barrow says he’ll move into the new district but hasn’t indicated where.
The political makeup of the new 12th is a major disadvantage, said Savannah College of Art and Design political science professor Robert Eisinger.
“But he also has the advantages of incumbency,” Eisinger said. “So people know his name but not those of people his opponent might be. And, as the numbers show, he also has a financial advantage.”
So far, the best-funded Republican is Augusta builder Rick Allen, who reported rounding up $271,675, including an $80,000 personal loan.
Allen also drew heavily on development, real estate and construction business interests. He began 2012 with more than $204,000 on hand.
Evans attorney Wright McLeod took in about $134,000 and had banked more than $130,000.
State Rep. Lee Anderson of Grovetown raised more than $140,000 and salted away almost $84,000. State law bars him from accepting money during the current General Assembly, due to continue into March.
Mableton attorney Maria Sheffield hasn’t raised any money, said Kathryn Ballou, her campaign consultant.
Barrow took in $173,500 from committees supported mostly by business and trade entities. They represented — among others — health care, pharmaceutical, energy and financial interests.
He serves on the House Energy and Commerce committee, which handles legislation dealing with such industries.
Barrow’s fellow lawyers, some of them lobbyists, gave him more than $36,000.
His biggest outlays were $10,000 for fundraising consultants and about $9,500 for catering at fundraising events.
If the past is any guide, he and the eventual Republican nominee will receive major support from national party groups this fall.
“I still think he can beat these guys,” said Savannah supporter Ed Feiler. “He’s done it before.”