The National Republican Congressional Committee said its blitz in the 12th Congressional District will target the Augusta and Savannah markets.
New district boundaries — which prompted Barrow to move from Savannah to Augusta — tilt toward the GOP, and the NRCC views it as ripe for picking.
Four Republican candidates are vying in the July 31 primary.
The NRCC has been seeking to link the four-term congressman with Democratic President Barack Obama. In 2008, Obama fared poorly in areas the new 12th occupies.
“John Barrow,” said NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek, “ ... worked ‘hand-in-hand’ with Obama to spend billions in bailouts, voted to keep Obamacare the law of the land and passed the failed stimulus.”
“Hand in hand” refers to a 2010 Barrow campaign mailing that touted his cooperation with the president. Barrow voted against Obama’s health care bill but also against repealing it.
“This initial TV offensive,” Bozek added, “is more bad news for Barrow as Georgia families are prepared to hold him accountable this fall for his reckless policies that ... stifle job creation.”
Barrow endorsed — and was endorsed by — Obama in 2008 but sometimes votes against his policies and recently has distanced himself from the president.
He didn’t attend when Obama visited Fort Stewart in March. He’s a delegate to this summer’s Democratic convention that will renominate Obama but won’t attend and will instead hold events in the 12th, spokesman Richard Carbo said.
Noting the GOP has run ads against Barrow before, Carbo didn’t seem worried.
“That kind of cookie-cutter campaign, based on the hyper-partisanship we’re seeing in Washington, D.C., won’t sit well with voters in the 12th,” he said.
University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said the news for Barrow isn’t all bad.
“$900,000,” Bullock said, “is not chump change. In addition … the GOP nominee, once selected, may run ads and there may be ads from independent groups … Barrow is going to be facing a deluge of negative ads.”
But a plus for Barrow, he added, is the amount Republicans think they need to take him out.
“If they thought he was toast,” Bullock said, “they would not spend so heavily against him. Thus … they believe Barrow has a fighting chance to hold on to the seat, which necessitates their bringing out the big guns.”
So far, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hasn’t reserved ad time in the 12th, but that doesn’t mean it won’t, said spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.
Another spokeswoman, Stephanie Formas, returned Bozek’s potshots.
“Republicans,” Formas said, “continue to kid themselves into thinking that any of their out-of-touch candidates can defeat … John Barrow. Mr. Barrow is an independent voice working to create jobs, reduce the deficit and protect Social Security and Medicare.”
Barrow, who reported having $1.2 million on hand as of March 31 and is unopposed in the primary, can mount a sizeable ad campaign on his own.
Republican candidates welcomed the NRCC’s intervention.
“For those … waiting to see if the GOP nominee will have serious support from the national GOP,” said Dublin lawyer Maria Sheffield, “… here is the proof you need.”
From the start, she’s said she considers Barrow — not the other GOP candidates — her opponent. On Tuesday, she raised the question — answered by Carbo — of whether Barrow would vote for Obama at the convention.
“Barrow is the newest member on the endangered species list in Georgia and not even his liberal friends … can help him now.”
State Rep. Lee Anderson of Grovetown said he looks “forward to going to Washington to balance the budget and send Barack Obama and John Barrow home” and is glad to have help.
Augusta businessman Rick Allen said much the same.
“We’re thrilled that the national party shares our full commitment to defeating the Barrow/Obama agenda and replacing it with some conservative common sense,” Allen said.
Augusta attorney Wright McLeod’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.