SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — With the midterm elections a year away, U.S. Rep. John Barrow has $1 million stashed away to defend his seat during a 2014 campaign in which the east Georgia Democrat is expected to be a top target of Republicans.
The latest campaign finance reports show Barrow of Augusta with a huge fundraising advantage over two Republicans running for a shot at denying the Democrat a sixth term. The numbers show that Barrow has more than $10 to spend for every $1 in the bank account of his nearly would-be GOP rival.
Of course, the race for Barrow's 12th District seat has barely started. First Republicans will have to elect a nominee to challenge Barrow, with the primary scheduled for May 20. So far two GOP candidates are in the race — Augusta construction company owner Rick W. Allen and former Capitol aide John Stone, also of Augusta. The primary winner will face Barrow in the Nov. 4, 2014, general election.
Republicans have been trying to oust Barrow since he first won office in 2004 and twice have redrawn the 12th District to whittle away key portions of the congressman's Democratic base. Lawmakers carved Barrow's hometown of Athens from the district before his first re-election campaign in 2006, then pushed Savannah outside its boundaries before the 2012 campaign. Those changes left Barrow with a district that clearly favors Republicans, yet he defeated GOP state Rep. Lee Anderson last year with a commanding 54 percent of the vote.
Now Barrow's gearing up for his next campaign fight. The congressman raised $274,350 in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30 and reported having just more than $1 million in the bank.
Allen was the runner-up in the 2012 Republican primary and has been aggressively pursuing a comeback. His latest campaign disclosure report shows Allen raised $124,782 in the three-month period ending Sept. 30. Allen's total fundraising for the 2014 campaign is more than double that amount, but he's also spending heavily — $145,610 in the last quarter — on staff, consultants and online campaign tools. At the end of the period he had $92,130 left in the bank.
"We don't have to match him dollar for dollar," Allen spokesman Dan McLagan said in an emailed statement. "Barrow and Obama are wrong, we are right and I wouldn't trade places with him for every penny he has in the bank."
Stone, meanwhile, insisted that his campaign for the GOP nomination is gaining momentum despite numbers that showed him lagging far behind Allen.
Stone reported raising $46,169 in the last quarter, a little more than one-third of what Allen raised. He had $43,352 cash in the bank. And though Stone has been running full-time since the summer started, his overall fundraising remained below $100,000.
"We fully expect Rick to raise more than us, but we have our budget for what we need to win the primary," Stone said. "I think we're in good shape."
Barrow's spokesman, Richard Carbo, said the congressman had no comment on the campaign to date.
Stone is seeking a comeback against Barrow. He ran as the Republican nominee in 2008. Barrow defeated Stone by 32 percentage points.
Barrow's 12th District seat covers 19 mostly rural counties and includes the cities of Augusta, Statesboro, Dublin and Vidalia. Its voters widely favored Republican Mitt Romney in last year's presidential election, yet Barrow managed to earn enough support from Romney voters to win a fifth term.
Though off to a strong start, Barrow isn't likely to start coasting when it comes to raising money. Winning re-election in 2012 cost the congressman $2.8 million.