published Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Bob Barr may challenge Tom Graves for Congress in Georgia

  • photo
    Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr takes part in a debate entitled "Does Security Trump Freedom?" during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. A spokesman for Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Barr is gauging support for a congressional bid and will decide by the end of the month whether to challenge Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., in the newly drawn 14th district in the northwest corner of the state.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press

ATLANTA — Bob Barr, who ran as a Libertarian for president, may challenge tea party favorite Tom Graves for Congress.

A spokesman for Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the former Republican congressman from Georgia is gauging support for a congressional bid and will decide by the end of the month whether to challenge Graves in the newly drawn 14th district in the state's northwest corner.

Barr spokesman Bill Crane said Barr would be an effective representative who could rise quickly in House leadership, where he already has close ties. He's already met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

"He is a seasoned leader," Crane said. "He's worked with (U.S. Sens.) Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. He's worked with (Gov.) Nathan Deal when he was in the House. He's worked with House Speaker John Boehner."

Graves, of Ranger, has been a maverick in the House, quitting the House leadership team to push the more ideologically pure conservative agenda of the Republican Study Committee and voting against a government spending bill last month that averted a government shutdown.

Graves spokesman Tim Baker said the congressman, who's serving his first full term in the U.S. House, is prepared for any challengers.

"Tom's constituents are very happy with his voting record," Baker said. "We're going to keep voting our district and our conscience."

Graves, a former state lawmaker, was elected in a 2010 special election to fill out the seat Deal left to run for governor. He won a full term just months later.

But the state's congressional districts were redrawn in a recent legislative special session to add in a new U.S. House seat in north Georgia.

As a result, Graves' district shifted to the west and now includes Chattooga, Floyd, Polk and Harralson counties, which he had not previously represented. Some of that territory was in Barr's old congressional district, which also covered parts of Cobb County.

Barr was not available for comment Tuesday.

A fiery former federal prosecutor, Barr gained national prominence as the first lawmaker to call for Clinton's resignation over the Monica Lewinsky scandal and was one of the House prosecutors who pressed the impeachment case in the Senate. He was swept into Congress with more than 70 other House GOP freshmen in 1994.

As a Libertarian candidate for president in 2008, Barr assailed both parties, arguing they are addicted to spending.

Barr lives in Cobb County, outside of the new 14th district. But Crain said he planned to move to the district if he decided to run.

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