As the November elections inch closer and the bigger-office candidates — not to mention the political parties themselves — start to open their war chests and spend some of their money on television ads, the armchair quarterbacking and wonky handicapping can begin in earnest, especially in Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, where incumbent Democrat John Barrow is facing a challenge from Republican developer Rick Allen.
After a bruising Republican primary last go around that resulted in a heartbreaking 159-vote loss in a runoff to former state Rep. Lee Anderson, whose aw shucks persona and years of cultivated relationships across the district might have won over Republicans but did little against Barrow, you’d think Allen would be chomping at the bit to kick some Barrow butt and show those Anderson supporters just how wrong they were. Instead, Allen seems a little disinterested and far less coordinated than his rival.
While Barrow’s camp appears to be making ground discrediting Allen’s allegations that Barrow is a lockstep disciple of President Obama, Allen has reportedly gone where few state candidates have gone before, investing a million dollars of his own money to fund his Washington aspirations. What in other elections with other handlers might have been portrayed as a sign of commitment and personal sacrifice instead looks a little desperate.
Not only that, but the five-term Barrow seems to have succeeded in painting Allen, a political novice, as a Washington insider with ads pounding a sensitive area other Republicans haven’t ever seemed able to exploit — Allen’s professional history making money off of government projects.
So really, the ads imply, it’s not his money he’s spending on his campaign, it’s yours.
If Allen’s plan was to hunker down and let the ill winds blowing from his brother and sister-in-law’s political demise blow out, he may have waited too long, or maybe he’s just been around long enough to lose some of his luster with his grassroots supporters. One person recently described Allen as being able to win the lead in the sequel to “50 First Dates” because he never remembers anyone he ever meets.
Whatever’s going on in his campaign, he’d better right the ship pretty soon, because Barrow’s a more maneuverable candidate and far more likeable. Not only that, he’s got experience, and in a year when just about everyone thinks Congress is doing a lousy job, Allen hasn’t been able to connect the dots linking Barrow to the establishment. And if he can’t do that, you wonder how effective he can be playing with the big boys.