Congressman Barrow gets new GOP challenger

Former Thunderbolt Councilman Carl Smith wants to be the Republican nominee against Democratic incumbent John Barrow.

Smith, a native of Thunderbolt, Ga., who serves as the town's fire chief, is seeking his party's nomination in the 12th Congressional District, which stretches to Richmond County.

He said he's running mostly in hopes of reining in what he says is runaway congressional spending that he says Barrow supports.

"The things they are doing in Washington, D.C., are completely out of control," Smith said. "Congress is running up debt that will never be paid off. Our children and grandchildren never will have a shot at the American dream."

Although an early supporter of President Barack Obama, Barrow sometimes has bucked his party on issues such as gun control, taxes, gay marriage and the war in Iraq.

Smith said the incumbent "has been able to get away with sounding like a conservative, but votes to borrow money we can never pay back."

Barrow spokeswoman Jane Brodsky rejected Smith's contention.

"The record speaks for itself," Brodsky said. "If Mr. Smith looks at it carefully, he will find that the congressman clearly takes into consideration that his actions have consequences and votes accordingly."

First elected in 2004, Barrow beat John Stone, his 2008 GOP foe, by a 2-to-1 ratio and is considered a heavy favorite for re-election. He raised $2.3 million for last year's campaign; Stone rounded up only $370,000.

Smith proposes to counter Barrow's financial advantage with a "where the rubber meets the road, grass-roots effort."

He said he has mobilized about 200 volunteers and already has support groups in more than half of the district's 22 counties. He also says he'll tap into his network of contacts in the public safety professions.

Before any showdown with Barrow, Smith must win the July 20, 2010, Republican primary. He'll face retired Army Lt. Col. Wayne Mosely of Vidalia, Ga., and perhaps others.

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The Carl Smith profile

Age: 39

Education: Studied fire science for two years at Savannah Technical College

Occupation: Thunderbolt fire chief

Political experience: Served on Thunderbolt Town Council (1997-2001 and 2005-2009); unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Thunderbolt (2001); unsuccessful candidate for Chatham County Commission (2003).

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