With only a couple of locally contested races this year, many people are following the U.S Congressional race for Georgia’s District 12 between incumbent John Barrow (D) and challenger John Stone (R).
On Tuesday, the Statesboro Herald talked with both candidates about a few issues including the pressing concerns of their constituents, their opinion on the financial industry bailout, expectations for Tuesday night and a final message for the voters.
What is the biggest issue the candidates hearing from District 12 voters while they’re on the campaign trail?
“The economy,” Stone said. “It’s interesting because this really has been the issue this entire election.”
Stone said it started back in November with the housing and mortgage crisis, and then moved to high gas prices, the collapse of Wall Street and most recently, the financial industry bailout.
Barrow said there are things that have been a concern to voters all along including cost of energy, lack of domestic energy supply as well of the availability and affordability of quality healthcare.
“There are consistent, underlying problems that affect the quality of this district and affect the cost of living in this district,” Barrow said.
Barrow voted against the bailout bill a couple weeks ago, and Stone thinks the bill punishes Main Street in favor of Wall Street.
“I agree with the majority of Congress that we had to do something. Where I disagree with the majority of Congress is the idea that we have to do something that will do more harm than good,” Barrow said.
Barrow said he and the Blue Dog Democrats — a coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats — put language into the bailout bill that would prevent the $700 million from going down “rat holes” to foreign investors or executive compensation, but that the president and his team insisted on working that language out of the bill, which is why Barrow voted against it.
Stone said, “I’ve been opposed to what (Congress) brought up.”
Stone said he thought the focus should have been on housing crisis, specifically reducing the amount of foreclosures. He said that was the start of the downward financial spiral.
“(We should) see what we can do to keep people in their houses and keep them making their payments. Six percent of something is better that 11 percent of nothing,” Stone said.
Stone said he thinks the race is a lot closer than people give him credit for and that his campaign will likely upset a two-term congressman who has spent around $2 million on the campaign.
“We expect to win. We expect it will be a close race,” Stone said. “I think there’s going to be a big surprise next week.”
Barrow said he thinks there’s a lot of interest in this year’s election — which he thinks is good — and that people have something to vote for — that they finally feel like their voices can be heard.
"It's going to be a long day for everybody concerned even though we have gotten a massive number of people taking advantage of early voting and advanced voting,” Barrow said. ‘There’s still going to be a huge turnout…but that’s a good thing — a nice problem to have.”
The Herald asked both candidates if they had a final message for the District 12 voters.
Stone said, “We need to take our seat in Congress back from Washington special interests,” Stone said. “We’ve got to win it back for regular working Americans.”
Barrow said, “I’ll tell you what folks tell me: they’re sick and tired of the partisan bickering in Congress. What I’m proudest of is that I’ve earned the reputation as someone who can work with folks on both sides of the aisle and on all sides of a given issue to come up with solutions that affect the people I represent. I put the interest of my constituents ahead of my team.”