McKinney won the Republican nomination in 2010, but lost to Barrow 43 -57.
At the time, the 12th district was a Democratic stronghold, but after the 2011 redistricting it became a very competitive ground for Republicans.
District 12 was supposed to be an easy grab for the GOP in 2012, but state Rep. Lee Anderson (R) turned out to be a weak candidate and President Barack Obama’s presence on the ballot drew unusually large numbers of Democrats to the voting booth. Barrow won by seven points.
In his statement below, McKinney lays out the reasons for the defeat and ways to turn things around in 2014.
It is not certain that Barrow will run for another congressional election since his name came up as a possible 2014 Democratic candidate for the Senate, after U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) announced that he will be retiring in January of 2015.
Republicans certainly see the 2014 mid-term election cycle as their chance to finally take over the 12th district.
John Stone, a Republican aide who challenged Barrow in 2008 and lost by 30 points, threw his hat into the race last Friday.
The following is the John Stone endorsement from Ray McKinney:
Fellow Georgians, once again we are tasked with choosing our representative in the US House of Representatives GA-12. Over the last few years, the 12th District has been represented by John Barrow (D) who has provided a solid constituent service program but has also supported many issues and policies in Washington that are not in our local or national interest. Like me, many of our local citizens, who share our values, have made repeated attempts to unseat our Democrat representative and have failed.
In the past it was felt by many that the district was drawn in such a way that it was impossible for Conservative to win the seat. Mathematically that was true; the 12th was a “slight Democrat” up until 2012 which made fund raising and national support difficult. Based on the new lines in 2012 and voting data from 2010, the Conservative vote in 2010 within those lines outweighed the Liberal vote and had we had those lines in 2010 we would have a GOP Representative.
We had an opportunity to take advantage to those lines in 2012 but failed to do so. Why? The reasons are many. A candidate who refused to debate the incumbent did little to inspire. A heated primary and run-off left many conservatives dissatisfied with the final candidate and resulted in a loss of support. The 2012 primary made enemies out of previous friends and allies. With a runoff, the time to raise funds and make an effective campaign was compromised. We became a house divided and we failed as a result.
I love our system where we campaign, debate, engage voters and the best person should come out on top. Unfortunately, I can also deal with reality. Our system has failed us many times and I see no change in the 2014 cycle.
I saw in 2008 where another district pulled together, the state party including our governor stood behind one candidate well before any other candidates announced. This resulted in the candidate’s ability to raise serious funds and dedicate those funds towards defeating the incumbent rather than spending that money trying to win a primary. This candidate had garnered enough attention to be given a speaking spot at the National Convention.
Last cycle we spent hundreds of thousands deciding who was going to represent the 12th only to lose in November. A race with the potential to win a GOP seat should have garnered national attention and once again a presence at the National Convention but we were so distracted with a contentious race and a runoff that we took ourselves out of the spotlight. We don’t have those resources to squander creating divides within our own voting bloc.
I think we all want the same thing in our candidate, a true fiscal conservative, someone who believes in our constitution, the rights of our state, our personal freedoms, and someone who does not support “big brother”. I would also like to see a Christian, one who can face God and not have to explain how he stood by and supported killing of millions of unborn children. An added bonus would be someone who knows the current system and can hit the ground running, someone who has the experience in Washington but not tainted by Washington.
We have someone like that in our District. As much as I would love to run again and I realize there are several other well qualified people who could throw their name in the hat, I offer a different success path for our district. Most politicians will wait until they see a poll, or review a fundraising report, or better yet, just wait to see who wins the primary before they step in and support a candidate. I am not like “most politicians’ and we do not have the luxury. I choose to support a man who has the qualities I am looking for and who will serve with humility. A man I once opposed but who stepped up when I won the nomination in 2010 to do what he could to help the 12th. A man I have come to know and respect for his experience and his beliefs. That man is our former candidate from 2008, John Stone. John has the credentials, the experience, and the willingness to serve our community. I urge you to join in and let’s hit the ground running as early as possible to put our choice in office.
I asked several candidates in 2012 a hypothetical. “If you knew that withdrawing from the race gave your primary opponent a 90% chance of defeating the incumbent, but if you stayed in you only had a 50% chance of defeating the incumbent, would you withdraw?” I was disappointed in several of the responses. The question is pretty basic; if your ego is willing to risk retaining the incumbent then you are not the right candidate for the job. That is what I ask those of you considering running. What is more important, your belief that you are the only one who can represent our district or we need a true conservative representing our district?
We can all do the math, the schedule, the handicapping and we all know the cold hard facts. A primary in 2014 like 2012 will result in one more vote for the Liberal agenda in Washington. Can we afford to not have that vote in these trying times? One vote can make the difference in the leadership of the House.
John Stone has the name recognition, the resources, and contacts and if we unite behind him, he will be guaranteed the ability to raise the funds and build the organization that will absolutely win the seat in 2014. No other candidate has this ability this election cycle. John can once again win a primary but as in 2008 and 2010 our candidate will be sitting broke the day after the primary while our Democrat opponent will have millions of dollars cash on hand. Another primary like 2012 will cost us this seat again and probably for years to come. Together, we can do this.
To those of you considering a run for 2014, tell me, convince me we have a better chance of winning repeating the process we did in 2008, 2010, and 2012? Prove to the rest of us that another drawn out, mudslinging primary like 2012 will serve our district and our country? What is more important to you? There is nothing preventing you from joining in and supporting John Stone except ………………..
Raymond McKinney Sr., PMP