Barr, McKinney Lose Big In Redistricted Georgia Races
The crushing defeat of Georgia Rep. Bob Barr by fellow Republican John Linder in the Sept. 20 primary for the states 7th District campaign is being viewed by some as a defeat also for the National Rifle Association (NRA), which threw its weight behind Barr, a member of the NRA board of directors.
Not so quick, countered Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president.
We told people that John Linder had a 100% voting record, he said. In terms of congressional votes, I wouldnt call a 100% voting record a loss.
LaPierre told Gun Week that Barr clearly had an uphill battle from the outset, as the new 7th District is largely Linders former 11th District and Linder was definitely the favorite son in the race. He suggested that the Democrats had deliberately set the new district boundaries in order to displace at least one of the two Republicans, and it worked.
LaPierre said Barr has been out front on the gun rights issue, sponsoring legislation and making media appearances, and fighting the Peter Jenningses and Dan Rathers, and he stood up to the anti-gun media.
Linder said it best, LaPierre observed. The deciding factor in this race was that it was John Linders old district. It was not a reflection on Barr. Bob was the odd man out and it was clear to see where the election was going. Bob is an outspoken leader for gun rights and I hope well all find a way to use his energy and enthusiasm for the cause.
Losing Barr in Congress is a definite loss of a strong pro-gunner, Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, concurred.
Bob Barr, he observed, has been firmly committed to the concept that the Bill of Rights is a complete document, and not something from which people can pick and choose which rights they want to exercise and recognize.
Yet, Waldron added, John Linder has consistently supported the Second Amendment.
Perhaps the only significant difference between Barr and Linder, Waldron suggested, is a matter of style. While Barr has been frequently in the spotlight, Linder prefers working behind the scenes.
Linder defeated Barr with a lopsided 67-33% victory in a race that pitted the two veteran Republicans against one another after the Democratic governor and Democrat-controlled Georgia legislature redrew the congressional district boundaries.
Campaigned for Barr
The NRA normally does not involve itself in primary races, especially when candidates both have strong pro-gun records. In this case, Linder and Barr have nearly identical voting records on the gun issue, but only Barr is an NRA director. LaPierre flew to Georgia for a campaign appearance with Barr, and NRA President Charlton Heston appeared in a commercial. A number of other conservative luminaries, including talk show host G. Gordon Liddy, campaigned for Barr in the final days of the primary campaign.
About three weeks before the election, Barr was involved in an embarrassing incident that occurred during a fund-raiser when a firearm he was being handed discharged, sending a bullet through a glass door at the private residence where the event was held. Linder made the incident a campaign joke and it received widespread publicity.
Barr graciously conceded the race to Linder, throwing his support to his much more low-key Republican colleague, who is almost assured victory in November against Democrat Michael R. Berlon.
Perhaps Georgia Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-6th District) summed it up best when he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, We had two good men and we lost one.
While the Georgia Democrats managed by gerrymandering to get rid of Barr, who was a leader in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton by the House of Representatives, they also lost ultra-left anti-gunner Cynthia McKinney, defeated by Democratic challenger Denise Majette in the 4th District race. Where Barr was a victim of redistricting, McKinney may have been a victim of her own mouth. McKinneys troubles began earlier this year when she accused President George W. Bush of having had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but allowed them to happen.
McKinneys campaign could not overcome the self-inflicted damage of her anti-Bush remarks, even with support from the Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and the Rev.
Joseph Lowery. There were also revelations that she used past endorsements from former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and actor Robert Redford as if they were fresh. Young disavowed the use of his old recording.
McKinneys defeat was marred even further by statements from her father, state Rep. Billy McKinney, who told WXIA-TV in Atlanta that there was a Jewish plot to discredit his daughter. Jews have bought everybody, he alleged. J-E-W-S.
Elsewhere in Georgia, veteran Congressman Saxby Chambliss won over two GOP challengers and will face freshman Democratic Sen. Max Cleland this November in a race for the US Senate.
Former state Sen. Sonny Purdue emerged as the Republican choice to take on Gov. Roy Barnes in Georgias gubernatorial race.
In another governors race, this one in Wyoming, NRA-backed Eli Bebout won the Republican primary and will battle Democrat Dave Freudenthal, a former federal prosecutor. Gov. Jim Geringer is stepping down after two terms, due to the states term limits law.