SAVANNAH, Ga. — Democratic Rep. John Barrow finished the latest fundraising period with $1.19 million in the bank to defend his congressional seat, giving him a big financial advantage over his Republican opponent in the final weeks of the campaign.
GOP challenger Lee Anderson, a state lawmaker and farmer from Grovetown, reported late Monday that he had $174,297 in his campaign account at the end of September.
That means for every dollar Barrow had to spend, Anderson had less than 15 cents.
As the last white Democratic congressman from the Deep South, Barrow is fighting harder than ever to win a fifth term. Republican state lawmakers redrew his 12th District seat last year to a give the edge to a GOP challenger.
Barrow is spending his money on ads that portray him as an independent who refuses to be beholden to either party. The Democrat rolled out a TV ad Tuesday that highlights his recent endorsement by the National Rifle Association.
The 30-second ad shows Barrow clutching his grandfather’s antique revolver and his father’s bolt-action rifle.
“I approve this message because these are my guns now,” Barrow, a Harvard educated lawyer, says as he slides the rifle’s bolt forward with a dramatic clack. “And ain’t nobody gonna take ’em away.”
On Monday, Anderson was looking for a boost from one of the GOP’s biggest guns. House Speaker John Boehner joined Anderson for a private fundraiser in Columbia County. Anderson’s campaign didn’t have any details Tuesday of how much money Boehner helped raise.
“John Barrow can spend as much money as he wants. It doesn’t change his voting record,” Anderson spokesman Ryan Mahoney said.
Political parties and outside groups have invested a combined $3.14 million on the race, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The biggest third-party spender is the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has spent $1.2 million in the 12th District – mostly on attack ads targeting Barrow. That’s nearly three times the $430,801 the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent.
Anderson and the NRCC have focused their efforts on tying Barrow to President Obama.
While Barrow has supported Obama in some instances, such as on stimulus spending, he has voted against the president on other key issues such as the federal health care overhaul.
The NRCC paid for an ad that debuted Monday that uses a TV news clip from Savannah last month in which Barrow says, “Well, my support for President Obama is beside the point.”
The ad says voters should hold Barrow accountable for supporting Obama on economic policies that have failed to create jobs.
Barrow’s fundraising disclosure showed he raised $648,070 in the months of July, August and September. The congressman reported raising $2.5 million for the entire two-year campaign cycle to date.
“That’s a strong fundraising quarter for as vulnerable as people are trying to portray Congressman Barrow as,” Barrow spokesman Richard Carbo said. “We’ll be the first to tell you this isn’t a cakewalk. The district was designed to elect a Republican. We’re not taking it lightly.”
Anderson raised $269,854 during the same three-month period, most of which he spent battling to win a bruising contested primary. Anderson reported his total fundraising since he entered the race a year ago as $621,659. That’s less than Barrow raised in the last quarter.