Debate gamesmanship in Georgia's 12th congressional district

8:42 PM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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Lee Anderson, Republican candidate for Congress in Georgia's 12th district.

EVANS, Ga. -- Lee Anderson is not a household name in much of Georgia's twelfth congressional district. The Republican is challenging the well-funded incumbent Democrat John Barrow, who is completing his eighth year in Congress.

But Anderson considers himself to be the frontrunner. And so far, the farmer and state representative hasn't agreed to debate Barrow.

"I'm not ducking nobody. I'm not scared of nobody. I sure ain't scared of John Barrow," Anderson says, speaking in the rural Georgia accent he acquired while living his entire life in Columbia County near Augusta.

Anderson says he has one requirement for agreeing to a debate: He wants Barrow to first state publicly- on TV, he says -- who he's supporting for president.

"Why give him free media when he won't say he's voting for Obama for president?" Anderson asks.

In early September, 11Alive News asked Barrow about his support  for the president.

"I support President Obama when he's right on the issues. When he's not, I don't," he said before being pressed about  his choice for president in the election.  "It's no secret that I'm going to vote for the top of the ticket," Barrow said. 


"'The top of the ticket,'" Anderson retorted when we visited him in Columbia County Friday.  "But he has not yet said 'I'm voting for Obama for president.'"

What's the difference? we asked.

"When the people know where he really stands," Anderson answered.  "When he says that, we'll consider debating him."

Anderson may not need to debate John Barrow to win. When the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the twelfth congressional district, it made Barrow the incumbent of a district that went overwhelmingly for John McCain in 2008.

The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has also pledged to support Anderson's candidacy to the tune of $900,000.

Barrow declined to attend the Democratic national convention, well aware of his district's political leanings. But Barrow, who was unavailable for comment when we visited the district, says through a spokesman he has accepted two debate invitations.


But Anderson may keep one of the debate chairs empty - and may still give John Barrow the closest race of his political life.

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