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Monday, June 4, 2012 - 8:52pm

Barrow's GOP Opponents Debate

The four Republican candidates seeking to oust Democratic Georgia Congressman John Barrow debated in Vidalia Monday night.

Two of the four sparred over campaign finance claims at Southeastern Technical College.

Wright McLeod and Rick Allen provided the evening's only fireworks, trading jabs over whether McLeod followed federal election laws in his campaign finance reports.

Vidalia resident Stan Lewis says that made him want to vote for either Lee Anderson or Maria Sheffield.

"I did not care for the other two going back and forth against each other," Lewis says. "That's what wrong with politicians. They spend too much time with character assassination and not enough time on the issues."

The debate lasted about 90 minutes and took place in front of a crowd of about 100 people.

Allen stressed his business background, Anderson his experience in state politics, McLeod his military career and Sheffield her grassroots organizing.

The four agreed on most issues.

Atlanta Journal Constitution political reporter Jim Galloway says, the extended talk about campaign finance reports could have unintended beneficiaries.

"It's about campaign disclosures and voters rarely are care about that sort of stuff," Galloway says. "One interesting thing is that while Rick Allen and Wright McLeod were going back and forth, Maria Sheffield, who is trying to grab the Tea Party vote, was just grinning."

Galloway was one of four panelists at the debate.

The July GOP primary is likely to end in a run-off.

The eventual winner will face Barrow in a district recently drawn to be more friendly for Republicans.

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