‘Passionately moderate’ ex-talk radio host joins suburban congressional race

11th Congressional District candidate Dana Barrett. Photo courtesy of Barrett.
11th Congressional District candidate Dana Barrett. Photo courtesy of Barrett.

‘Socially liberal’ and ‘fiscally responsible’ Democrat challenging Barry Loudermilk

Last year, Democrat Dana Barrett received the big break she’d long been hustling for when she began hosting her own political talk radio show. But chatting with listeners who largely shared her views started to feel like an echo chamber.

That and a recent move to Buckhead prompted Barrett to leave her show on 640/WGST-AM and challenge Republican Barry Loudermilk for his 11th District congressional seat.

Barrett is betting that her "socially liberal" and "fiscally responsible" views will win over the kinds of suburban women whose disenchantment with President Trump helped flip the neighboring 6th Congressional District and a dozen GOP statehouse seats last year.

“Anybody who listened to my radio show knows I don’t like Trump,” she said in an interview. But “I don’t want it to be a focus. I’d rather have the focus be on positivity and progress versus just griping about what’s happening now.”

A breast cancer survivor who went into debt to pay for her treatment, Barrett said ensuring access to affordable health care is a top priority. She wants to take a “pragmatic” approach to improving Obamacare by adding a public option and limiting the influence of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

“Let’s look at the whole problem, take it apart, and see where we can make fixes,” she said of the 9-year-old health care law. “We don’t need to throw out the good to try to get the perfect.”

Barrett thinks there’s also a bipartisan compromise to be forged on guns in the aftermath of recent mass shootings, including banning assault rifles, enacting “red flag” laws and closing loopholes in the background check system.

She said she supports House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against Trump.

The former tech executive and bookstore owner is hoping to flip a district that’s been reliably Republican for decades. Before Loudermilk was elected in 2014, the district – which reaches from Adairsville down to Buckhead, encompassing Cherokee, Bartow and portions of Cobb and Fulton counties – was represented by Phil Gingrey and Bob Barr.

The 11th is far more Republican than the nearby 6th and 7th districts, which are being heavily targeted by both parties this cycle. Trump carried the 11th by 25 percentage points in 2016, and Loudermilk was easily re-elected with more than 61 percent of the vote last year.

Barrett moved into the district earlier this year but has lived around metro Atlanta for the last three decades. She said Loudermilk is "rubber stamping pretty much what the far-right wants him to do" and pointed to his handling of the recent ethylene oxide emissions controversy in his district as evidence of him "not doing a whole lot."

She is currently the only candidate challenging Loudermilk, who has been easily re-elected since arriving in Congress. He had $262,00 in his campaign account at the end of the last filing period.

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