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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 9:40pm

Barrow Defeats Thomas, But GOP Awaits

Savannah Democrat John Barrow defeated a liberal challenger in Georgia's 12th Congressional District.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Barrow received 19,481 votes, or 57.9%, to 14,183 votes, or 42.1%, for former Savannah State Senator Regina Thomas.

It might be the last time Thomas, a Chatham County political veteran known for her hats and her outspoken rhetorical style, takes on an incumbent Congressman.

Thomas conceded defeat shortly after 11 o'clock, calling her second campaign to unseat Barrow "fun" and "rewarding."

But she says, twice is enough.

"I've given it my best shot," said Thomas, hugging supporters as they filed out of a Southern-style restaurant in downtown Savannah. "When you've done all that you can do and the people have spoken, then that's it."

Barrow now faces a much tougher challenge, a Tea Party infused general election in one of the state's most competitive districts where past victories have been eeked out.

Speaking to reporters near the lobby and bar of a new downtown hotel, Barrow, a conservative Democrat who often bucks party leaders to side with Republicans, said that he wasn't thinking about the national anti-incumbent trends.

"Well, I hear a lot about that in other parts of the country. I read about it and I see it on TV," said Barrow. "But I haven't seen much of it in my case. Maybe that's because of the policy that I follow of representing my district."

East Georgia's sprawling 12th District stretches from Savannah to Augusta and west to include Statesboro and Swainsboro, a rural and urban mix of liberal and conservative bastions.

On the Republican side, the primary appeared headed for a run-off, with Savannah engineer Ray McKinney and Thunderbolt fireman Carl Smith.

Again, with 99% of precincts reporting, McKinney had 11,700 votes, or 42.6%, with Smith at 7,672 votes, or 27.9%. Jeannie Seaver and Michael Horner trailed.

General elections in the district are generally close and usually feature a raft of outside money and celebrity appearances.

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