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Barrow and Pelosi
Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Barrow mum on Pelosi vote

By Larry Peterson for savannahnow.com

U.S. Rep. John Barrow won't say whether - if re-elected - he'll vote to retain Californian Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

Barrow is one of a growing number of House Democrats distancing themselves from Pelosi as the Nov. 2 election approaches.

He is being challenged by Republican Ray McKinney, a nuclear power plant manager from Vidalia backed by many tea party activists.

Barrow's 12th Congressional District takes in most of Savannah - where he lives - and has tilted only slightly Democratic in recent years.

Seeking a fourth term, Barrow has long sometimes bucked party leaders, including President Barack Obama.

His spokeswoman, Jane Brodsky, didn't answer directly when asked last week whether he'll back Pelosi if she seeks to keep her post.

"November is a long way off," Brodsky said. "Congressman Barrow doesn't even know who's running."

But Pelosi has offered no hint she plans to step down and remains a key target of the GOP's strategy to wrest back a House majority.

Republican national chairman Michael Steel underscored that point in a recent appearance for McKinney.

"It will take 39 seats to gain a majority in the House and fire Nancy Pelosi," Steele told McKinney supporters at a rally in Statesboro.

Last week, a Rasmussen Reports national poll found Pelosi is the least popular congressional leader - 59 percent of respondents viewed her unfavorably.

Barrow discussed the speakership vote in a recent interview with Zack Fowler, general manager of radio station WCTQ in Vidalia.

Barrow hinted he'll have no practical choice if Pelosi is unopposed by any other Democrat. So far, no Democrat has stepped up to challenge her.

"I gotta support the results of the democratic system just like everybody else does," he said, "and you can't beat something with nothing.

"I'm looking for leadership that supports our values ... When I have a choice, I'm going to make a choice that is in the best interests of the district, but you can't beat something with nothing."

Go to savannahnow.com/elections [1] to get voter tools, candidate profiles and the latest news.

Republican McKinney says that means Barrow will vote for Pelosi when the dust settles.

"John just doesn't want to paint himself into a corner," Mckinney said. "But he voted for her in 2005, 2007 and 2009."

Pelosi lost in 2005, before the Democrats had a majority in the House, but won in 2007 and 2009.

"I can guarantee you that I will not be voting for Nancy Pelosi or any other liberal speaker," McKinney said.

Brodsky said Barrow "will continue to vote against the leadership when they are wrong on the issues."

She cited as examples his votes against Obama's health care and energy bills and for tax cuts.

That's not good enough, McKinney said.

"He's the most conservative congressman around for about eight weeks every two years - before the election," the challenger said.

At least 10 other House Democrats - including Jim Marshal of Macon - have declined to endorse Pelosi. Most - including Marshall - are in tough races.

Claiming to be undecided is basically a political ploy, said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock.

"One criticism Republicans direct at Democrats, especially in marginal districts is, 'the first vote my opponent will cast will be for Pelosi.'

"You can counter that by saying, 'No, I'm not, I haven't made up my mind.' It sort of closes the door on one line of attack."

But historically, the professor said, majority-party House members have almost always voted for the speaker.

"It would be extraordinary if Barrow didn't," Bullock said.

 
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