Leading the pack in the Augusta-centered July Republican primary is Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen, whose campaign reported he had raised more than $270,000 from 220 individual donors during the last quarter and has more than $200,000 cash on hand.
Allen, a contractor involved in several Augusta government construction projects, said “there is much work left to do” in the coming months to defeat Barrow.
The four candidates seeking the 12th District Republican nomination will face off in the July 31 general primary. A runoff date is set for Aug. 21.
Trailing Allen by about $60,000 each are Augusta attorney Wright McLeod and state Rep. Lee Anderson.
McLeod, blasting Barrow in a statement as “wasting tax dollars on bailouts and bloated programs,” reported raising $134,642 during the last quarter, with $130,337 cash now on hand.
Anderson, who lives in Grovetown, raised $138,182 from 241 donors in the last quarter of 2011.
“The voters of the 12th District will have a crystal-clear choice between a conservative farmer and an Obama Democrat,” said Reagan Williams, Anderson’s campaign manager.
A fourth candidate in the Republican primary, Maria Sheffield, won’t have anything to report until March, her spokeswoman, Kathryn Ballou, said.
“It made sense” to Sheffield and her new fundraising manager, Augusta native Gannon Gingrey Manning, to wait until after the holidays to allow donors to focus on their families during that time, Ballou said.
Also likely to turn up on the Republican primary ballot is Brian Nafarette, an abortion opponent from Evans who hasn’t reported raising any money.
Barrow, whose Savannah home was drawn out of the 12th District during reapportionment, had $691,507 on hand in his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission. The Democrat is serving his fourth term.
Retired Augusta State University political scientist Ralph Walker said he has noticed the effects of candidate fundraising in the numerous political signs posted along Augusta roads.
“Name recognition is the name of the game,” Walker said. “You can buy a lot of name recognition with money.”
Barrow plans to raise about $3 million this year to retain the seat, according to University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock. A challenger need not match Barrow dollar for dollar, Bullock said, but he or she needs at least enough to survive the primary, a runoff and the general election.
With the potential to unseat a Democrat in a district that’s grown more Republican by 10 percentage points since reapportionment, candidates are likely to see some super PAC spending on their behalf, although probably not until after the primary, Bullock said.
After July, the race might resemble the 2010 election of Republican Congressman Austin Scott, who was pushed to victory over Macon Democrat Jim Marshall by big political action committee and Republican party contributions, he said.