Roy Barnes mixes charm, shrewd intellect

ATLANTA --- Roy Barnes learned life lessons helping out at his father's general store in Mableton. It was where Barnes learned to spin a yarn and where he became hooked on politics.

In this photo taken July 20, 2010, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes speaks in Atlanta. Barnes is facing Republican Nathan Deal in the November election.  John Bazemore/Associated Press
John Bazemore/Associated Press
In this photo taken July 20, 2010, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes speaks in Atlanta. Barnes is facing Republican Nathan Deal in the November election.

Barnes has gone on to an adult life largely spent in public office. Now, eight years after voters turned him out as governor after a single term, the 62-year-old Democrat is angling for a comeback.

To win, Barnes must run not just against GOP opponent Nathan Deal but against the national Democratic Party establishment and President Obama, whose approval ratings in Georgia trail the national average.

With his rumpled hair and folksy drawl, Barnes can turn on the backslapping Southern charm. He's also a shrewd trial lawyer and politician. And while he calls himself a "poor ol' country lawyer," Barnes has a net worth of $16.6 million.

Barnes might have grown up on a modest dairy farm, but these days he lives in a sprawling Victorian home in Marietta. He worked six days a week and Sundays were for church, so there wasn't much time for family travel. When he got out of his father's pickup truck at the University of Georgia in the 1960s, it was his first time in Athens.

Barnes blazed through his undergraduate studies and went straight into the University of Georgia Law School.

In college he was a Republican, saying that then-Gov. Lester Maddox's hard-line segregationist views turned him off to the Democratic Party.

After earning his law degree, Barnes returned to Cobb County and took a job in the Cobb County District Attorney's Office. He married his first love, Marie, a schoolteacher.

Barnes was elected to the state Senate in 1974 at 26, the youngest person to serve in the chamber. Along the way, he also set up a thriving private law practice.

Barnes and his brother, Ray, opened Georgia State Bank. It was eventually sold to Alabama National Bancorp and then to RBC. The shares from those sales have added millions of dollars to Barnes' bottom line.

In 1990, Barnes made his first run at the governor's mansion, jumping into the Democratic primary against then-Lt. Gov. Zell Miller and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. He finished third, and Miller went on to be elected governor.

Barnes returned to the state Capitol in 1992 and served three terms, this time in the state House. In 1998, he claimed the governorship, defeating Secretary of State Lewis Massey in a primary and Republican businessman Guy Millner in the general election.

As governor, Barnes pushed an ambitious agenda. His full-throttle approach was admired by those who respected his vision. Others saw arrogance and gave him the nickname "King Roy."

He passed a sweeping education reform bill, was able to shrink the racially charged Confederate battle emblem on the state flag and muscled through a tough predatory lending bill.

Barnes seemed an easy bet for re-election in 2002, but anger from teachers and rural white voters upset with changes to the state flag helped lead to an upset victory by Republican Sonny Perdue.

For six months after losing, Barnes worked for Atlanta Legal Aid, where he represented poor clients and worked on consumer issues.

He then set up a law practice in Marietta with his daughter, Alison, and son-in-law. Barnes has handled a few high-profile cases that have helped keep his name in the news, fighting a state voter identification law that requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls. Opponents say it disenfranchises poor and minority voters. He also represented a Roswell man who wanted to raise chickens and roosters in his backyard.

Barnes said that after leaving office he has watched Republican rule at the state Capitol with growing dismay and finally decided in 2009 that instead of complaining about the problem he would try to fix it.

Education has been a cornerstone of his bid. He has pledged to fund more money for schools by scrapping special interest tax exemptions and has also said that improving Georgia's education system would be the strongest way to ensure that jobs return to the state.

Roy Barnes

AGE: 62

CITY: Marietta

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree from University of Georgia, 1969; Law degree from University of Georgia, 1972.

EXPERIENCE: Former Georgia governor. Barnes served one term as governor, from 1998 to 2002. He was defeated by current Gov. Sonny Perdue. Barnes served in the state Senate, from 1974 to 1990 and the state House from 1992 to 1998. He has worked as a lawyer with the Cobb County District Attorney's Office, Atlanta Legal Aid and in private practice. He currently serves as an attorney for Barnes Law Group.


-- Associated Press

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Taylor B
Taylor B 09/25/10 - 09:29 pm
I guess shrewd intellect

I guess shrewd intellect means say anything to get votes. This guys platform is a pipe dream.

johnston.cliff 09/26/10 - 07:26 am
LOL on the AP. I wonder who

LOL on the AP. I wonder who they're supporting in this race?

smartie 09/26/10 - 10:03 am
i got news for you. if he

i got news for you. if he can't beat nathan deal, he might consider moving to a more friendly place.

Bantana 09/26/10 - 10:26 am
sadly, many folks are still

sadly, many folks are still upset about the flag change. there is absolutely nothing in the former governor's past history that indicates he is not a man of integrity. he has a vision and his resolve to drag this backward, low performing state into the future is genuine and selfless.

Quack Quack Quack
Quack Quack Quack 09/26/10 - 10:37 am
Lets see... "learned to spin

Lets see... "learned to spin a yarn", and "shrewd trial lawyer and politician" That says it all. ( see Rick's cartoon today)

Ole School
Ole School 09/26/10 - 11:53 am
oh well, too bad, because

oh well, too bad, because November brings change and that means parties too !! BYE BYE Barnes hello Tea Party !

Linda7965 09/26/10 - 01:19 pm
The people who are/were

The people who are/were waiting for “moderate Blue Dogs” to appear during the debates on Healthcare reform, Cap and Trade, Global Warming and Wealth Distribution to foreign countries while America continues sinking to third world status… need to come to grips with the fact…there are no moderates. There are no “Blue Dogs”.

If you see all of the above issues as a positive…there are three suppositions: (1) You have never read about Communist dictatorships. (2) You don’t think Americans needs money, jobs, homes, and food. (3) You have a deep seeded hatred for America and all it stands for. Take your pick or add to my list.

Whether it is the State or Federal governments…every Democrat will rubber-stamp everything that comes from the Communist/Socialist in Washington who now reside in both parties of our once great USA. That is a given and Roy Barnes will be no different.

Nathan Deal is not the ideal candidate. We haven’t had any. But there is one thing for sure…he has promised to stem the tide of illegals that are coming into Georgia daily and signing up at the nearest welfare office to take the few crumbs that can be borrowed from China for disbursement to opened hands. It is not just Mexico. Illegals are here from every third world nation that has managed to export its undesirables to our shores. The most important lesson you can learn from history is that Socialism renders everyone poor and a servant of a few unelected, unaccountable…and mostly unseen, rich elite.

I borrowed this blogger’s comment. It is a “tongue-in-cheek” response to those who have the I.Q. of a small coffee pot and do not realize that decades of illegal invaders taking from the economy and never returning anything is what bankrupted America. Make no mistake about it…we are broke. Is there a country Americans can turn to when China decides they are no longer going to loan America money? The answer is no.

The author: “anonymous”

About 2 million foreigners legally immigrated to our country last year and about 5 million illegals. As far as I'm concerned, we should put out the welcome mat for all of them.

However, there are a few problems that we need to take care of as fast as possible to make their transition to America as smooth as possible. We need to give them an opportunity to realize the “American Dream”. It would be a pity if all they realized was an American nightmare. We need to gear up to provide the following new services and support for this year and ever year to come:

(The following amounts are approximates since we do not know how many illegal or legal immigrants (visa scams) are in the US).

880 billion gals of treated drinking water…1,160 billion gals of additional raw sewage…land fills for 900 billion lbs of garbage…prison space for 1,800,000 new inmates… day care for 1,975,000 babies…class rooms, teachers and administrators for 20.8 million new students…cut down 1,575,000 more trees for their lumber and paper…provide 505,000 new language instructors…64.5 million additional jobs or welfare…11,900,000 Social Security and 11,980,000 new Medicare recipients…43.3 million new Medicaid cases…burn 1,700,000 tons of coal to provide their electricity…import an additional 600 billion gallons of gasoline.

Some environmental pressure from immigration will be offset by the rapid transfer of all US manufacturing jobs to foreign countries, followed by white collar jobs and finally by service jobs. Hey, with no jobs the only thing we have to worry about is our welfare check. If the Chinese will be kind enough to give us one.

Illegal immigration remains the most important battle we face. Most of you don’t understand that illegal immigration and phony trade agreements are being purposely used like a tool to destroy all that is America. If we don’t stop this tsunami of illegals…our most important resources will be gone. Jobs, water, food…are crucial to all…whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent or Tea Party.

Taylor B
Taylor B 09/26/10 - 03:04 pm
Linda, Deal voted for NAFTA.

Linda, Deal voted for NAFTA. Remember, there are no such things as natural contradictions, just a premise misplaced.

crackerjack 09/26/10 - 05:13 pm
Barnes had a $9.4 million Net

Barnes had a $9.4 million Net Worth January 1998, before he was elected Governor.

As the above article states.."Barnes worked for Atlanta Legal Aid, where he represented poor clients and worked on consumer issues."

"And while he calls himself a "poor ol' country lawyer," Barnes now has a net worth of $16.6 million."

Sweet son
Sweet son 09/26/10 - 05:49 pm
He must have had enough for

He must have had enough for eye surgery. He doesn't look right without his "granny" glasses.

rmwhitley 09/26/10 - 07:52 pm
Barnes is as underhanded as

Barnes is as underhanded as all of the other politicians. Be very, very wary of his promises and not so truths. He, as well as 99% of all pols, is in it because of an enormous ego. What can he do for himself and his cronies.

Linda7965 09/27/10 - 12:30 pm
Taylor B…I know…you are

Taylor B…I know…you are correct.

You will find both parties up to their eyeballs in this treason. I won’t bother to go into detail on what I learned after Bush signed the SPP. I did wake up however to the truth. When I want to determine America’s future or identify the next shoe that will drop…I look at Europe’s history. I don’t wait for the Medias to tell me anything. All the news you get…including Fox News is filtered. Sounds conspiratorial?
Yes, but name-calling no longer silences me.

Most of the incumbents who have been in office since the 90s knew exactly what NAFTA and the continued borderless America would do. The entire CFR had been bragging for years that “trade agreements” would render sovereign countries control under the Marxist/Communist/Socialist form of government that now controls Europe.

Choices: I did not like Karen Handel. She was endorsed by Perdue who is a Globalist and a suck-up to the Rockefeller elites. Roy Barnes in the next two years will follow the Obama lead. He will rubber stamp anything that comes out of Washington because the party of George Soros and will intimidate him into doing this. As far as doing away with NAFTA…this won’t happen unless we “flip” the Chamber of Commerce, State Department, and Congress…both Houses.

Deal has publicly signed onto stopping the invasion of America. It is our most important battle. If we lose this battle America is gone. Amnesty with millions from third world countries voting for handouts in the next election with no allegiance to our culture, our history, our Constitutional Republic will destroy any hope for the future. America has few freedoms left. The career politicians sold out America a long time ago. We must rebuild and attempt to stop cultures who hate America from voting in the next election. This will be a good place to start.

Go to NumbersUSA. Deal has signed the “Five Point Plan” to return America to a “sustainable” population growth. If he doesn’t…Georgia still has the option for recall. I will be the first to circulate the petition.

As far as outsourcing…as I implied above…both parties are involved. America has few manufacturing jobs left. China has come out of their rice fields on jobs that once belonged to America. This while our own government watched American families lose their homes, their jobs, and the means to feed their families.

Obama indicated he would put America back to work with “green jobs”. Well if you are keeping score of the lies: The light bulbs manufactured in America are being phased out and the new mercury filled light bulbs will be manufactured in China. Say good bye to the manufacture of coat hangers too.

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