John Jenkins Barrow (born October 31, 1955) is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 12th congressional district, serving since 2005. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
The district stretches along the eastern portion of the state, from Augusta to Savannah.
Early life, education and career
Barrow was born in Athens, Georgia to Phyllis Jenkins and Judge James Barrow, who both served as officers during World War II. His family has deep roots in the Athens area, and according to his staff he is a great great nephew of David Crenshaw Barrow Jr., for whom nearby Barrow County was named. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a political science degree in 1976. While a student, he was a member of the University's Demosthenian Literary Society.
In 1979, he earned a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard University.
After graduation, he entered private practice as a lawyer, working in that capacity until his election to public office.
Barrow was elected to the Athens City Council, representing the city's fourth district, in 1990. That same year, the voters of Athens and Clarke County voted in favor of unifying the two governments. Two years later, Barrow was able to win election to the new unified County Commission. He won re-election again in 1996 and in his final re-election in 2000, he turned away a spirited challenge from young newcomer Michael Le Houllier.
U.S. House of Representatives
Barrow is a Blue Dog Democrat as well as a member of the New Democrat Coalition.
In November 2009, Barrow was one of 39 Democrats to vote against the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
In March 2010, he was one of 34 to vote against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill passed the House 219-212. In January 2011, Barrow voted against repealing the law.
Barrow's voting record on abortion is mixed. In 2007, Barrow received a 100% approval rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-choice group, and also received a 0% approval rating from the National Right to Life Committee, a pro-Life organization. However, in 2006, he received only a 35% approval rating from NARAL, and in November 2009, he voted to amend the health care reform bill to prohibit private health insurance companies from offering insurance plans covering abortion to subsidized citizens except in the case of rape, incest, and life of the mother.
In 2004, Barrow entered the Democratic primary for Georgia's 12th District.
The 12th had been one of the districts Georgia gained as a result of the 2000 United States Census. The district, with its 40% African-American population, had supposedly been drawn for a Democrat. However, Republican college professor Max Burns had won the seat in 2002 because of ethical questions surrounding the Democrat nominee, Charles "Champ" Walker, Jr. Barrow won a four-way primary and went on to defeat Burns by 52% to 48%.
Barrow was one of 44 Democrats in the House to vote against the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the cap and trade bill.
At the same time Barrow was elected, the Republicans won control of both houses of the Georgia state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. One of their first acts was an unprecedented mid-decade redistricting that targeted Barrow and the other white Democrat in the Georgia delegation, Jim Marshall.
One proposed map, seriously considered, would have drawn his home in Athens into the heavily Republican 9th District of seven-term incumbent Nathan Deal, while throwing the other half of Athens into the equally Republican 10th District of six-term incumbent Charlie Norwood.
The final plan was somewhat less ambitious, but shifted all of Athens into the 10th District. Rather than face certain defeat, Barrow moved from his ancestral home of Athens to Savannah in the newly redrawn 12th. The new 12th was slightly less Democratic than its predecessor. Although it was five points more African-American than the old 12th, it also included several Republican-leaning Savannah suburbs that had previously been in the heavily Republican 1st District. Barrow faced Burns in the general election and won by only 864 votes — the narrowest margin of any Democratic incumbent nationwide.
However, he trounced Burns in Chatham and Richmond counties — home to Democratic-leaning Savannah and Augusta, respectively (as well as more than half the district's population) — by a total of over 17,000 votes.
Barrow's 2006 candidacy faced not only the mid-decade redistricting but also 2 visits by President George W. Bush to the district, campaigning by national figures on behalf of Burns (including RNC Chair Ken Mehlman and U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert) and popular Governor Sonny Perdue's reelection bid.
In the 2008 election, Barrow faced a primary challenge from State Senator Regina Thomas, who represents a majority-black district in Savannah. Barrow won the Democratic nomination nomination with 76% of the vote over Thomas with 24% of the vote, 96% of the precincts reporting. He easily defeated his Republican challenger, former congressional aide John Stone, with 66% percent of the vote.
Barrow and his wife Victoria were divorced in 2005. He has two children.
October 20th, 2011