Barrow returns to roots in closing stretch of runoff

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow is running for Georgia secretary of state. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow is running for Georgia secretary of state. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

If Democrat John Barrow is going to pull out a victory in Tuesday's runoff for secretary of state, he's betting on strong support from voters from the U.S. House district he once represented.

Facing an uphill battle, Barrow is set to rev up a Jeep tour on Monday that will crisscross the ever-shifting 12th District he held for five terms before a 2014 defeat.

As he fought for re-election as a centrist Democrat, he moved from Athens to Savannah to Augusta and back to Athens. And his SUV tour will hit those three stops, starting with Savannah then Augusta before ending the day in Athens.

He faces Republican Brad Raffensperger, a little-known state lawmaker who is avoiding media interviews and skipped the only televised debate. But he's favored to win despite his low-key campaign, if only because Republicans are generally more likely to vote in runoffs than Democrats.

An analysis of early-votes by Ryan Anderson of showed the runoff electorate was significantly whiter and older than it was during the general election. And white voters came close to outpacing black voters in DeKalb County, the most important Democratic county.

Barrow’s campaign hopes to flip the script on Election Day, hoping to energize Democrats outraged over voting rights issues that marred the November vote for governor as they pick the state’s next elections chief.

The vote will test whether Democrats who eagerly embraced a slate of progressive candidates at the top of the ticket will show up for a centrist whose ad promised voters he's a Democrat but "won't bite ya."

And it will also test whether Republicans can keep their grip on statewide office to rally behind a low-profile lawmaker who was virtually unknown to voters, and to many in his party’s leadership, before this campaign.