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Bob Barr Seeks Rare Return to Congress from Georgia

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The former U.S. Representative seeks to become the first Georgia Republican to return to the U.S. House after a gap in service and just the second from any party in the state since the end of World War II

bobbarr10.jpgAfter six-term Republican U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey officially announced last week that he would seek the Georgia U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring GOPer Saxby Chambliss, Bob Barr announced his candidacy for Gingrey's 11th CD seat.

Barr, a former four-term Congressman (and 2008 Libertarian Presidential nominee), exited Congress over 10 years ago after losing the 2002 GOP nomination when redistricting pitted him against Rep. John Linder in a map much more friendly to his opponent.

In addition to his presidential campaign, Barr is perhaps best known as one of the most outspoken conservatives in the House during the late 1990s and one of the House managers in the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton.

And now, back in the Republican fold after his six-year dalliance with the Libertarians, Barr will attempt a return to Congress from the Peach State - something very few members have accomplished over the last century.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that of the 279 men and women who have served in the House of Representatives since statehood, 25 had interrupted periods of service, but just five since 1900 and one since the end of World War II.

Even putting redistricting explanations aside, the fact that Barr lost his 2002 House campaign is not unusual on its face in the history of Georgia politics.

Of the 100+ Georgians who formerly served in the U.S. House during the 20th and 21st Centuries, nearly the same number eventually lost their seat in the primary or general election (43, 39.4 percent) as those who left on their own terms via retirement or seeking another office (45, 41.3 percent).

An additional 15 Georgians died in office (13.8 percent), five more resigned (4.6 percent), and one incumbent, Newt Gingrich, was elected but did not take his seat (0.9 percent).

Reason for Georgians Exiting the U.S. House Since 1900

Reason for departure
#
Percent
Did not seek reelection
45
41.4
Lost reelection bid
43
39.4
Died in office
15
13.8
Resigned
5
4.6
Did not take seat
1
0.9
Includes both data points for five representatives who served two stints in Congress during this era (Democrats Charles R. Crisp, James Overstreet, Charles Edwards, John Wood, and Cynthia McKinney). Data compiled by Smart Politics with information provided in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Overall, 25 of the 279 men and women who have represented Georgia in the U.S. House since statehood did so with nonconsecutive periods of service, or 9 percent.

However, only five of these returned to Congress after a gap in service in the 20th or 21st Centuries, and just one since the end of World War II:

Democrat Charles R. Crisp (1896-1897; 1913-1932). Crisp served less than three months after winning a special election after the death of his father, seven-term Rep. and former Speaker Charles F. Crisp, in 1896.

Crisp did not seek reelection but after a 16-year absence returned to the chamber winning the Election of 1912 in the first of 10 consecutive victories through the Election of 1930. Crisp did not seek reelection in 1932 but instead sought and lost the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Democrat James Overstreet (1906-1907; 1917-1923). Overstreet served five months after winning a special election in 1906 after the death of Rufus Lester and then was out of Congress 10 years before returning in 1917.

Overstreet would serve three terms during his second stint but lost his party's nomination in 1922.

Democrat Charles Edwards (1907-1917; 1925-1931). Edwards served five full terms int the U.S. House but did not seek reelection to his seat in 1916.

After three cycles out of office he was elected to Congress once again in 1924 and served until his death in 1931.

Democrat John Wood (1931-1935; 1945-1953). Wood, Chairman of the Committee on Un-American Activities during his second stint in the U.S. House, was elected to the first of two terms in 1930.

After losing his renomination bid in 1934, Wood was out of Congress for 10 years before returning for four terms in 1945. Wood retired from Congress and did not seek his party's nomination in 1952.

Democrat Cynthia McKinney (1993-2003; 2005-2007). The controversial McKinney served five terms during her first run in the U.S. House before losing her renomination bid in 2002.

After two years out of office, McKinney was elected again in 2004, but lost the Democratic nomination for her congressional district for the second time in three years in 2006. Like Barr, McKinney also sought the presidency on a third party ticket in 2008 (Green).

An additional 20 Georgians served nonconsecutive stints in the House during the 18th and 19th Centuries including notables such as:

· John Milledge (1792-1793; 1795-1799; 1801-1802): Governor of Georgia, 1802-1806.

· John Forsyth (1813-1818;1823-1827): Governor of Georgia, 1827-1829.

· Wilson Lumpkin (1815-1817; 1827-1831): Governor of Georgia, 1831-1835.

· George Gilmer (1821-1823; 1827-1829; 1833-1835): Governor of Georgia, 1829-1831; 1837-1839.

· George Towns (1837-1839; 1846-1847): Governor of Georgia, 1847-1851.

· Howell Cobb (1843-1851; 1855-1857): Speaker of the House of Representatives, 1849 to 1851.

· Alexander Stephens (1843-1859; 1873-1882): Vice President of the Confederacy, 1861-1865; Governor of Georgia, 1882-1883.

Milledge and Gilmer are two of the three Georgians whose tenure in the House was broken up into three periods.

Richard Wilde also served three stretches as a Jeffersonian Republican (1815-1817), Crawford Republican (1825-1825), and Jacksonian (1827-1835) from the Peach State.

Among those 25 members who did successfully return to the U.S. House from Georgia over the last 220 years, few waited as long as Bob Barr.

Overall, the average gap between periods of service in the nation's lower legislative chamber from these two-dozen plus Georgians is 6.8 years.

If Barr is elected in 2014, he will have recorded a 12-year absence from the House.

That would mark the fourth longest break in service in state history behind Thomas Hardeman at 22 years (1859 to 1883), Charles R. Crisp at 16 years (1897 to 1913), and Alexander Stevens at 14 years (1859 to 1873).

Barr is perhaps counting on his newfound Libertarian roots to rebrand himself to Republicans as a conservative who truly believes in less government intervention in people's lives.

No doubt the phones will soon be ringing at Rand Paul's headquarters in hopes of an endorsement.

Georgia U.S. Representatives with Gaps in Service to the U.S. House

Name
Party
Stint 1
Stint 2
Stint 3
Gap 1
Gap 2
John Milledge
Democratic-Republican
1792-1793
1795-1799
1801-1802
2
3
Alfred Cuthbert
Democratic-Republican
1813-1816
1821-1827
 
4
 
John Forsyth
Democratic-Republican
1813-1818
1823-1827
 
4
 
Richard Wilde
Democratic-Republican / Crawford Republican / Jacksonian
1815-1817
1825-1825
1827-1835
8
2
Wilson Lumpkin
N/A
1815-1817
1827-1831
 
10
 
George Gilmer
Democratic-Republican / Jacksonian
1821-1823
1827-1829
1833-1835
4
4
Charles Haynes
Jacksonian / Democrat
1825-1831
1835-1839
 
4
 
Thomas Foster
Jacksonian / Whig
1829-1835
1841-1843
 
6
 
Roger Gamble
Jacksonian / Whig
1833-1835
1841-1843
 
6
 
Seaborn Jones
Jacksonian / Democrat
1833-1835
1845-1847
 
10
 
Julius Alford
Anti-Jacksonian/Whig
1837-1837
1839-1841
 
2
 
George Towns
Jacksonian / Democrat
1837-1839
1846-1847
 
7
 
Thomas King
Whig
1839-1843
1845-1850
 
2
 
John Lumpkin
Democrat
1843-1849
1855-1857
 
6
 
Howell Cobb
Democrat
1843-1851
1855-1857
 
4
 
Alexander Stephens
Whig / Democrat
1843-1859
1873-1882
 
14
 
Thomas Hardeman
Opposition / Democrat
1859-1861
1883-1885
 
22
 
Hiram Bell
Democrat
1873-1875
1877-1879
 
2
 
Henry Harris
Democrat
1873-1879
1885-1887
 
6
 
John Nicholls
Democrat
1879-1881
1883-1885
 
2
 
Charles R. Crisp
Democrat
1896-1897
1913-1932
 
16
 
James Overstreet
Democrat
1906-1907
1917-1923
 
10
 
Charles Edwards
Democrat
1907-1917
1925-1931
 
8
 
John Wood
Democrat
1931-1935
1945-1953
 
10
 
Cynthia McKinney
Democrat
1993-2003
2005-2007
 
2
 
Data compiled by Smart Politics with information provided in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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