Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two Georgia Democrats Prime GOP Targets in 2008

I've argued against the assumption on the part of many that Democrats will gain House seats in 2008. With 61 House Democrats sitting in seats won by George Bush in 2004, there are plenty of targets -- as long the political climate gives the GOP a relatively even playing field. With George Bush off the ticket and Iraq unlikely to be a major issue again, politics should be more 'normal' next year. Congressional Quarterly looks at two Georgia Democrats who barely squeaked by last year and who will be bigger targets the next time out:

Most Democratic House incumbents took advantage of the anti-Republican political atmosphere of 2006 to easily win re-election, as their party gained control of the chamber. So the cliffhanger contests endured by Jim Marshall and John Barrow , a pair of neighboring Georgia congressmen, really stood out — and have earned them both unwanted places among the most potentially vulnerable Democratic members running for re-election in 2008.

Both held on last year to defeat Republicans who had formerly served in the House, enabling the Democrats to pull off the unusual feat of capturing 30 Republican-held seats while losing none of their own. But theirs were the closest elections among all of the victorious Democratic incumbents: Barrow won the 12th District race by just 864 votes of more than 142,000 cast, and Marshall secured the 8th District seat by only 1,752 votes of nearly 160,000 cast.

Marshall and Barrow both will face less politically experienced challengers in their races next year, but they still will have to overcome an obstacle that caused big problems for them in 2006: A rare mid-decade redistricting plan, enacted after the Republicans gained complete control of the state legislature in the 2004 elections, made significant changes to both Democrats’ districts, costing them thousands of familiar constituents and casting them into parts of the state where the lawmakers still are working hard to make themselves better known.

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