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Georgia On Voters' Minds

Votes in Georgia head to the polls today to pick nominees for November's elections, and at least two incumbents could find themselves in serious trouble by the end of the night. In neighboring districts bordering South Carolina, Reps. John Barrow, a Democrat, and Paul Broun, a Republican, face challengers who could give them a run for their money.

In Barrow's Twelfth District, which encompasses Savannah in the south and Augusta up north, it's usually Republicans who have given the two-term congressman heartburn. Barrow narrowly defeated Rep. Max Burns in 2004, one of Democrats' few bright spots that year, even as President Bush won a 2,600-vote majority in the district, and held Burns off by a mere 900 votes in 2006.

This year, it is a Democrat who is giving Barrow a race. State Senator Regina Thomas has won support from some in the netroots community who criticize Barrow for being too conservative. Through the June 30 pre-primary deadline, Thomas had raised just $26,000 as compared with the $1.65 million Barrow had on hand.

But Barrow faces a racial problem, as well. A white Democrat, Barrow represents a district that is 45% African American, and Thomas, who represents Savannah in the state legislature, is black. Despite Thomas' lack of funding, she's worrying Barrow enough that he's run radio advertisements featuring an endorsement from Barack Obama, one of the few races the presumptive nominee has become personally involved in.

Barrow's colleague, freshman Republican Broun, faces his own challenge in today's primary from State Rep. Barry Fleming, as Greg Bobrinskoy wrote last week. Broun, who replaced the late Rep. Charlie Norwood in a surprise upset last year, is favored to win, though his could be a close race as well.

Georgia voters are also picking a Democrat to take on Senator Saxby Chambliss, and though polls show the first-term Republican easily handling any of his potential foes, five candidates are still fighting for the chance to face him in November.

National Democrats favor Jim Martin, a former State Representative who ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2006. Vernon Jones, the DeKalb County CEO, has led several primary polls, while former television reporter Dale Cardwell looks like he's advancing in polls as well. Businessmen Rand Knight and Josh Lanier trail the top three candidates.

Through the pre-primary filing deadline, both Martin ($775,000) and Jones ($640,000) had raised respectable sums, but each campaign treasury is dwarfed by Chambliss' $4 million cash on hand. While Democrats have a good shot at winning a number of other Senate seats, their hopes for taking back Georgia's seems remote.