Four Republicans – Rep. Lee Anderson, lawyers Wright McLeod and Maria Sheffield, and businessman Rick Allen – are seeking the Republican nomination for Congress on Tuesday. Their names will appear only on the Republican primary ballot. The winner of the four will face Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow in the Nov. 6 general election.
A runoff – required between the top two finishers if none of the candidates receives 50 percent – is likely and set for Aug. 21. Voters who cast Democratic ballots Tuesday can’t switch parties for the runoff. If voters cast a nonpartisan ballot, they can switch to a partisan ballot.
The 12th District was redrawn last year by the Republican-dominated Legislature in an effort to unseat Barrow. It spans 19 counties, from Douglas and Statesboro in the south to Dublin in the west and Evans to the north. Half the district’s residents live in metro Augusta.
The candidates are similar in conservative ideology but differ in background and approach. McLeod retired from the Navy and wants to return to public service. Anderson is a farmer who has held several elected offices, including state representative. Sheffield is the only candidate from outside metro Augusta and the only woman. Allen stresses his business and civic experience.
Members of Congress are elected to two-year terms. They must reside in the state but not necessarily in the congressional district. Barrow has held the seat since 2004 and has twice survived Republican-led efforts to unseat him by redrawing district lines. He moved to Augusta earlier this year after his Savannah home was drawn out of the 12th.