Kingston Yes; Barr No

This week’s Courier Herald column:

The longest runoff in Georgia history to end one of the longest nominating campaigns in Georgia history will mercifully be over next Tuesday.   Two of the careers that hang in the balance represent the origins of Georgia’s current Republican Party.

Congressman Jack Kingston was first elected to Congress during the reapportionment year of 1992. He is facing college graduate David Perdue for the GOP nomination for US Senate.  Bob Barr was elected during the Contract For America election two years later.  He faces former State Senator Barry Loudermilk in a bid to replace the seat being vacated by Congressman Phil Gingrey who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.

Their paths were similar for about a decade, and diverged a decade ago when Barr chose to challenge fellow incumbent Congressman John Linder rather than stand for re-election in a district which Barr was finding increasingly competitive.  Linder won soundly, and Barr has spent the past ten years working as an attorney and commentator, and running for President as a Libertarian.

Kingston’s resume is quite a bit more linear and in many ways, less…dramatic.  He’s been a solid soldier on the House Appropriations Committee, chairing a couple of powerful sub committees.  It is that committee assignment that was viewed as potentially Kingston’s biggest campaign weakness, but has turned out to be one of his best advantages.

Kingston’s ads which ran during much of the general primary featured his old station wagon and his kids dressed in hand-me-downs.  While the ads were not universally loved, they did help introduce Kingston to much of the state who didn’t know him or about his frugal idiosyncrasies.  They also helped blunt any potential charges that Kingston was an out of touch D.C. big spender because of his service on the Appropriations committee.

His long tenure did serve to help him in establishing a fundraising and grassroots network across the state.  His reserved nature and history as a Congressman that worked well with the rest of the state’s Congressmen and party faithful allowed him to gain a fundraising organization that dwarfed all others save his largely self-funded opponent.  His fundraising edge helped push him through a crowded field and into next Tuesday’s runoff.

His familiarity with the GOP activists has since allowed him to be the choice that most GOP grassroots and Tea party leaders to coalesce behind since the runoff.  Unlike his opponent, Kingston has shown he is comfortable and relatable to the party’s base, whereas Mr. Perdue continues to make unforced gaffes to the “envelope lickers” he needs to vote for him.

In short, Kingston has spent his two decades plus in Congress establishing himself as a methodical and trusted resource who has little risk of becoming someone different once he is sworn in the US Senate.  He’s a known quantity.

His former colleague  Bob Barr is known for very different reasons.  Barr’s propensity to reinvent himself seems to correlate strongly to whatever will get him in front of a TV camera or generate his name in print.  He seems willing to say or do anything to agree with the opinion polls of the day, and has shown an amazingly flexibility to change his views as public opinion does.  His ability to change direction with the blowing winds earned him the moniker “Weathervane Bob Barr” from National Review.  Whether the legalization of drugs, gay marriage, or demanding to be tough on crime while referring to local police as “Barney and Andy with a militia”, there is seemingly not a position of the day that Barr hasn’t been on both sides of.

Worse, Barr seems to want the people of Georgia’s 11th district to return him to Congress so he can resume his duties where he left off.  The problem is that the country and the GOP have changed significantly in the past twelve years, and stump speech lines about Janet Reno and Clinton’s impeachment demonstrate that time has moved on but Barr has not.  Barr’s campaign indicates he has no record of achievement since leaving office for a decade so he must only cling to fading memories of his own glory days highlight reels as a reason to vote for him.

Both Barr and Kingston were instrumental in building Georgia’s Republican Party and helping turn Georgia into a deep red state.   The similarities largely stop there.  Barr has used his position for shameless self-promotion, and used the party as a tool of convenience that could be discarded or trumpeted as the occasion suits.

Kingston, on the other hand, has demonstrated that one can be a “loyal” member of the GOP Congress and still attract the support from anti-establishment and Tea Party types.  This alone should give him serious consideration.  The Senate, after all, is a place where coalitions must be built, and anyone who can unite the Tea Party and the “establishment” within Georgia’s GOP clearly has the skills needed to navigate within DC’s upper chamber.

Jack Kingston will get my vote next Tuesday.  Bob Barr will not.


  1. notsplost says:

    Barr lost me when I saw a huge billboard on I-75 proclaiming something to the effect of “Vote Barr – save Lockheed!”

    As a publicly traded multinational corporation with a market cap of $50B, I somehow doubt that the future of Lockheed-Martin depends on Bob Barr.

    Some libertarian!

    • DavidPerdue2014 says:

      Those jobs at Lockheed and the future of Dobbins Air Reserve Base DO in fact depend on the 11th District Congressman. I’m voting for Barr because of the same reason that the Marietta Daily Journal endorsed him, he has the experience and will have the seniority to protect those jobs in Cobb County. Barry Loudermilk has already alienated the House GOP Leadership by openly campaigning against them and pledging that he absolutely will not vote for John Boehner if elected. A move like that which creates animosity from the Leadership before he is even steps foot in Washington is extremely dangerous and downright stupid. The 11th District does not need a political amateur like Barry Loudermilk representing their interests and protecting their jobs in Washington.

      • Charlie says:

        We love sock puppets that only show up at election time to persuade us, oh so sincerely, that the talking points for their candidate are true and earnest. It’s rare that they use the screen name for one candidate to shill for another however, so kudos to your…innovation.

        “I know a scoundrel when I see one.”

          • Lawton Sack says:

            Maybe one day you will add something of substance and not just calling people names and/or dragging them through the mud. You are not helping Perdue. At all.

            I realize that Charlie is definitely able to stand up for himself, but it really, really irks me when people have sacrificed so much and yet are ridiculed for their personal opinion.

            • DavidPerdue2014 says:

              My comments are in reply to a post by Charlie Harper that calls people names (ex: Weathervane Bob Barr) and drags two candidates through the mud. Yet you are crying and whining for me “just calling people names and/or dragging them through the mud”. Peach Pundit logic. Come on, man.

      • gcp says:

        ” protect those jobs” And who protects the taxpayers from the billions wasted on the useless Lockheed f-22 ?

        • TheEiger says:

          I wouldn’t call the F-22 useless. If and when action is needed against Russian and/or Chinese air defenses we will want the F-22. The F-22 is part of the modern “Big Stick” that Teddy Roosevelt had in mind when he said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

          The need to have two different engines available for F-22 was a bad mistake and drove up cost and that should not have been done.

          • gcp says:

            Its junk. It has not flown in combat and even some AF pilots don’t want to fly it. It was supposed to be a bridge from 15, 16, 18 to the 35 but its been a waste. You can thank trick knee Chambliss and a few others for pushing the f22.

            I seldom praise Obama and McCain but at least they saw fit to end the program. Useless defense spending is just another reason I no longer belong to the republican party.

      • c_murrayiii says:

        I have no dog in the fight so to speak in the 11th, but lets be honest, given the “wonderful” job Lockheed as done with the F-35, spending over $400 billion of taxpayer money on a non-working jet, I think its time to stop protecting Lockheed and to start punishing them for their ineptness. We need a healthy defense industry that actually produces, not corporate welfare that gets by on doing the minimum with little competition.

        • TheEiger says:

          Much of Lockheed’s “ineptness” comes from Congress’s meddling, mandating and changing the rules throughout the process. The procurement schedule for funds to build the F-22, F-35 or the C130 is also a major problem when Congress want something built, but refuses to pay for it on the agreed schedule. Is Lockheed responsible for some of the mistakes with the F-22 and F-35? Absolutely. Just as much as Congress is responsible too.

          • c_murrayiii says:

            TheEiger, you are absolutely right, I should have noted more how the parochial interests of Congress have seriously undermined the Defense procurement process, among their other acts of meddling. That said, Lockheed is quite guilty of encouraging this behavior, as well as benefiting from it.

  2. Bill Arp says:

    I am not what Bob Barr is….But I know he will not be the next Congressman from the 11th. He has tried hard to change his smell ……but a skunk is a skunk.

  3. Most insiders seem to want Kingston and despise Perdue, yet Kingston’s ads are terrible and Perdue’s have been good (though not the best work of Fred Davis). Unfortunately for Kingston, most voters are not insiders. Will be close but I’d have to bet on Perdue if the election were today.

  4. It’s rare that I don’t vote the same as you, Charlie, but I’ll be going with Perdue and Barr this round.

    My reluctant yes for Barr is simply a no for Loudermilk though. And for that matter, my yes for Perdue is really a yes for Nunn.

      • Jack is likeable. There’s a lot of power behind that – much more than money…. activists give him their time, their stamp of approval to their neighbors, their energy.

        EVERYone (who’s anyone if we’re candid) is supporting Jack. The wind will need to be taken out of his sail for Michelle’s path to victory. When “your” candidates loses, there’s a deflation. The winner of the runoff might get your party-line vote, but they don’t get your energy, enthusiasm, or word of mouth support – which is HUGE to Republicans.

        I feel a bit like a traitor and have mixed emotions as I switch over to Michelle Nunn’s side, but it’s what I need to do for me. And with that decision, I have to make a strategic vote. I don’t care what the polling data says – take a Republican’s spirit (which Perdue can’t inspire nor carry), and Michelle has won the race.

        CEO to CEO…she wins on humility of spirit and the women/blue collar vote.

          • Salmo says:

            So you’re saying Michelle Nunn’s target voter is someone who votes for her exclusively on the basis of her gender?

            If so, that’s sad.

              • Salmo says:

                There’s no war on women.

                She’s been offered the opportunity to defend her vote for Nunn beyond the genetalia she was born with several times. She has yet to do that. It even appears that she’s struggling a bit with voting for someone who clearly doesn’t align with her beliefs politically (compared to the two remaining alternatives). That’s all I was pointing out.

                If I said I was voting for a man against Jan Jones in her House district on the sole basis of his being a man, now that would be an actual “war” on women. It would also be a stupid reason for voting for someone.

                • Sigh. I’ve outlined why I’m voting for Michelle Nunn outside of her genitalia (and eww, can this be the last time that word is used on this topic) multiple times on multiple threads. I don’t mind bantering but dang, the record just keeps skipping on this one point over and over by different people.

                  Michelle Nunn has a very clear leadership record. She’d be an excellent leader and representative for Georgia.

                  • TheEiger says:

                    Like the leadership she has shown by saying how she would have voted on the Affordable Care Act? She is showing great leadership on that front.

                  • Salmo says:

                    So let’s say this race ended up being Jacqueline Kingston against Michael Nunn… all policy positions and previous experience the same as they are for Jack and Michelle. Would you vote for Michael over Jacqueline?

                  • Jon Lester says:

                    I’ll take Amanda Swafford over all of them, not because I care about the Fair Tax (which will never pass, nor should it), but because she’ll vote on principle against any new foreign aid and intervention, which is far preferable to someone who’ll vote to waste money we don’t have on completely wrong assumptions.

        • Trey A. says:

          I think Bridget is spot-on. And I also think Kingston will win because turnout is going to be low and his side seems to be more spirited. Plus, Charlie AND Herschel Walker have endorsed Station Wagon Jack. That’s a powerful 1-2 punch right there.

          I voted for Handel in the primary. Not sure I’m going to bother voting in this one next week (but I do need to vote in the School Supt. runoff and a judge race here in the ATL). Most likely crossing over for Nunn in the fall, regardless of who wins.

          Speaking of that other race, what’s separating Mike Buck and Richard Woods?

      • drjay says:

        almost all the gop businessmen that have tried to buy senate seats have not fared well in their campaigns–think coors in colorado or milner here…now some were in races they were clear underdogs for like mcmahon in connecticut–but i think perdue would perform the same…

  5. DavidPerdue2014 says:

    So…The same liberal blogger who endorsed Carol Porter for Lt. Governor over Casey Cagle decides to trash true conservatives who are going to change the status quo in Washington like David Perdue and Bob Barr? I do not buy it.

    • Lawton Sack says:

      Charlie has a voting record and a record of supporting candidates that shows that he is not a liberal. David Perdue does not. Carol Porter got several crossover votes, mainly because she was willing to listen and talk to both sides.

      Just because somebody has a different opinion from you does not make them a liberal.

      • Lea Thrace says:

        “Just because somebody has a different opinion from you does not make them a liberal.”

        And here I thought that was precisely the definition of liberal.


    • MattMD says:

      Yes, I’m sure one senator has the ability to change the “status quo”. Are you day drinking or something?

      • radix023 says:

        I seem to remember a tizzy about an evolution comment from a Senatorial candidate, as if a Senator has any real influence on state curricula. 😉

        • Jon Richards says:

          While a Senatorial candidate may have little influence on curricula, he can influence the electorate’s opinion of the GOP, and not in a good way. He can also empower like-minded groups of voters to press their case more strongly than they would have been able o do without his encouragement.

  6. Noway says:

    People have been swearing to change the way Washington works for decades. Never happens. Never will. A political novice like Perdue won’t. Insiders like Barr and Kingston won’t either. Elections have become beauty contests and still nothing ever changes even after the “next best thing” arrives. There are 17 trillion reasons that despite the combative rhetoric of “change”, nothing ever will.

  7. Bloodhound says:

    We have already been “Perdued”. Once is enough.

    David Perdue’s most influential endorsement come from “SonnyDo” Perdue. Sonny’s dealing at Oaky Woods was absolutely appalling, even though the ways things turned out, he and his cronies ended up having to trash their plans to clearcut 19,000 acres of Georgia to install 36,000 cheap houses.

    Now we learn about “DavidDo’s” appointment to the Port Authority and his trucking deals that smell like a carp after 4 days in the hot Georgia sun!

    Jack Kingston has been serving Georgia for over 20 years with not the least bit of a hint of corruption, all the while standing on the line, guarding conservative principles in Congress.

    We know where he stood 20 years ago, 10 years ago, last year and we know where he will stand in the Senate.

    Perdue can’t even make it through one election cycle without his cronyistic deals rising to the surface. We don’t know a lot other about him, other than his business record, which is multi-shaded.

  8. Three Jack says:

    Jack Kingston is a likable guy, but as Charlie notes about Kingston’s reliable longevity in Congress – “…(he) has little risk of becoming someone different once he is sworn in the US Senate.” That’s the rub, we don’t need more of the same. I’m not at all confident that Perdue will offer much of a change, but I am willing to give him a chance with full awareness that I’m likely to be disappointed.

    As for Barr, like Bridget this decision really comes down to not having a better option with Loudermilk as the other choice. If the GOP wants to become the party of theocracy, then Loudermilk and Hice will be fine additions.

  9. BuddyFreeze says:

    Could somebody do me a favor and put a sock in Herman Cain he sounds damn fool defending David Perdue.

    • Noway says:

      I’ve stopped listening to WSB in the 9-12 time slot. Herman is unbearable. And supposedly his listeners outnumber Neal’s? I don’t beleive it for a second. When he was a second rate local guy in the evenings he was mildly entertaining but having him in a prime time slot is embarrassing.

  10. ryanhawk says:

    “Kingston, on the other hand, has demonstrated that one can be a “loyal” member of the GOP Congress and still attract the support from anti-establishment and Tea Party types”

    I believe it is more accurate to say that the “Tea Party types” supporting Kingston are simply opposed to Perdue. And their opposition seems to arise more from personal animus towards Perdue than from any philosophical or ideological difference between the candidates. I count it as one more sign of exceptionally weak leadership in the “tea party”.

    • Three Jack says:

      You’re right ryanhawk. Look no further than Dooley’s comments about Kingston a year ago when the field was full then compare with her recent endorsement of him. Tea party types supposedly want outsiders to run against career politicians, yet in this case TP ‘leadership’ joins with the career pol against a successful businessman running for the first time. Emotion over logic.

      • gcp says:

        Many of these “endorsements” are not so much about ideology and one’s record as they are about access to the politician. Because Kingston is the current front runner, many want to get on board now with a winner so they can get something in return after he gets elected.

      • radix023 says:

        Grain of salt here: there is no Tea Party leadership. It is amorphous and does not dance to any particular politician or activists’ tune. To treat the Tea Party movement (the best language I can summon for it) as monolithic is to misunderstand.

      • Michael Silver says:

        Another example is their Jihad against Speaker Ralston. If you looked at the supposed principles of the Tea Party, you’ll find Speaker Ralston moved state government toward each one of them. Those supposed Tea Party principles are:

        1) Constitutionally Limited Government or your Personal Freedom and Your Rights
        2) Free Market Economics or Economic Freedom to Grow Jobs and Your Opportunities
        3) Fiscal Responsibility or very simply, a Debt Free Future For You and Generations To Come

        The Tea Party is Jihading Ralston because ……… ETHICS and being a defense attorney! Where is that on the list?

        After learning about how profitable being a leader of the Tea Party is, I would not be surprised to learn that the amnesty pushing Chamber of Commerce provided a ….. how do we politely describe a thirty pieces of silver … er…. a very large “investment” to the Tea Party.

        I would equally not be surprised when Kingston introduces a 1,000,000 page bi-partisan bill that provides amnesty and significant government benefits to Illegals at the expense of Americans.

        Don’t cry for the Tea, they got their money.

  11. Salmo says:

    While I normally agree with you on most things, I have to disagree on the 11th given your own logic. While we might not know what you would get out of Barr this time around, it is a virtual lock (by way of campaigning against the Speaker) that Loudermilk is going to be a back-bencher who brings little value to the 11th district, at least for his first term or two. We also know that there is a danger of his saying something stupid (same with Hice) that alienates much of the electorate and does major damage to the party both statewide and nationally. With President Obama in office for another two years, both men are going to have a virtually identical voting record on any legislation that actually ever becomes law.

    Ed Lindsey would have been the best choice of the field, but Barr is probably the lesser of two evils here. Given that I’m in the 9th, though, I don’t suppose my opinion is all that relevant.

  12. radix023 says:

    Can someone please enlighten me about Bob Barr? I have heard the weathervane term used about him, but from where I’m sitting, Bob has moved towards more individual liberty:
    He doesn’t endorse drug use, but recognized the war on drugs does more damage.
    He isn’t exactly pro-gay-marriage, but recognizes that it is a matter better for the states to decide than to be imposed at the federal level.
    Bob has always been a supporter of the RKBA.

    I’m not claiming to have all the answers or to say the weathervane description may not be deserved to some extent, but I would like to hear about times that Bob has moved to a more authoritarian/statist position.

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