In his bid for a fourth term in office, John Barrow said he's encouraged by what his constituents are telling him across Georgia's 12th U.S. House District.
Barrow, a Savannah Democrat, said his record of putting the district's interests first has resonated with his constituents.
"I'm encouraged by everything that's happened," he said Friday of his re-election campaign. "I know there's a lot of anger directed at a lot of people for a lot of reasons. But I'm not running into that. Folks are telling me they're proud of the way I'm voting for the district and putting the inter ests of the district ahead of anyone in Washington.
"I'm more interested in the jobs of folks back home instead of the jobs of party leaders somewhere else."
Barrow said he understands the frustration of Americans at what's going on - and what isn't - in Washington, D.C. He said he sees how those at the Capitol are pushing issues and agendas that aren't helping solve problems.
"They think we're not focused on the most important thing, the thing the last election turned on, and that's fixing our broken economy and putting people back to work again," he said. "That is the concern of the vast majority of Americans."
Barrow won two hotly-contested elections against Max Burns and rolled up an overwhelming victory two years ago, beating John Stone by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. He held off a challenge from former state Sen. Regina Thomas in the July primary. Two years ago, Barrow had no problem dispatching Thomas' bid to claim the Democratic nomination.
But his vote against the health care overhaul cost him support among some of his base, especially in Savannah. Yet Barrow said his record of bipartisanship and cooperation has held him in good stead with the voters of the 12th.
Barrow said there have been prominent Republicans who have told him he has their vote because of the way he has stood up to his own party leadership.
"I'm very encouraged by the reaction I'm getting," he said. "They see I'm trying to focus on the economy and I'm trying to vote the interests of the district. I have prominent people who are members of the other party who say they are going to vote for me because they respect the way I stood up to party leaders. They know I vote the interests of the district.
"I work with folks on my side of the aisle when I think they're right. I work with folks on the other side of the aisle when I think they're right," Barrow continued. "I think that's what folks want us to do all the time. If you do that, there's going to somebody who's going to be upset with you at any time, because they're more interested in partisan politics."
What sets him apart from other Congressmen, Barrow says, is he does own homework. "I don't let anyone else give me the answers to the test anytime we have to make a vote for our constituents. I never let anyone tell me what's in a (piece of) legislation," he said.
"I'm convinced if more members of Congress did their own homework, I think they'd have more results to show for it and the public would be more satisfied with what Congress is doing."
The massive health care reform package is one of a handful of laws that will require maintenance and repair in the next session of Congress, Barrow said, "because they have some big flaws."
There have been a few accomplishments that have gone untrumpeted, according to Barrow.
"There are great many things this Congress has done that have generated bipartisan support or deserve bipartisan support," he said. "Putting restraints on Wall Street speculators so banks can't continue to gamble with other people's money is a huge step in the right direction."
Barrow also said he's proud of the work done the last four years to improve resources for veterans returning from combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's also pushing new job training so they can rejoin the workforce and is endorsing a program that uses veterans recovery coordinators. Under that program, veterans would receive technical training that could help advance the backlog of work from the Army Corps of Engineers.
"We have made tremendous improvements and resources in taking better care of our veterans than we have in the past," he said. "The economy they left to go fight when they signed up is not the economy they are coming back to."
Barrow has backed a new GI bill, which will pay for four years of college for veterans, and also is pushing technical and other educational options for those who don't want to go to a four-year school.
"There's a lot that's positive going on in the economy. It's just not filtering down to the workforce," he said. "This has been the pattern we've seen over and over since the 1970s. With every serious recession, recovery has been marked with fewer and fewer jobs. There are plenty of new jobs, if you're trained for them. We ought to invest in people to make them more valuable."