Gingrey will relinquish his congressional seat for a shot at the Senate as U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss will not be seeking re-election in 2014. Barr is the first to formally announce his candidacy, but will likely not be alone in the field for long.
“There aren’t any other candidates yet, but I’m sure there will be and what will set Bob Barr apart from these other candidates is the experience and leadership that I’ve had not only in jobs held in Georgia, such as the U.S. Attorney post, but also having served in the Congress for eight years previously,” Barr said. “When I served in the Congress, we balanced the budget, we cut taxes, we reformed welfare, we protected Second Ammendment rights. All the things that are under attack now in Washington, we’ve accomplished previously.”
Barr served what was then Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, which included all of Bartow County, from 1995 to 2003. Before that, he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
Barr emphasizes his past experience in Congress and the fact that prior terms served count again toward total seniority on the floor and within committee assignments if an elected official should return to Congress.
As political goals shuffle around with one retirement begetting additional campaigns, Chambliss’ original statement cites the current climate in the House as one reason for his retirement.
“Instead, this is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health,” said Chambliss in a Jan. 25 statement. “The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon. For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy.”
Barr too spoke Wednesday to the failings of Congress and vowed to bring change if voters choose to send him back to Washington come 2014. As mentioned by Chambliss in his announcement not to seek re-election, Barr sees the financial woes of America and its citizens as the main issue facing Congress.
“Already as I’ve traveled the 11th District, that’s what I’m hearing from people. There are all manner of issues that are important to people, but what I hear consistently from people is, ‘We need to have someone up there that will get the economy back in order.’ Contrary to what President Obama repeats endlessly, we do have a spending problem. It’s not that government isn’t taking enough money from our businesses and our families and our individual pockets, it’s that they’re taking too much and they’re spending too much,” Barr said. “We need to be cutting taxes. We need to be cutting government spending and we need to stop this nonsense, this tragedy of frillion dollar deficits each year, which has pushed us to the brink of political abyss.
“But you can’t do it with a meat cleaver. We kind of tried that back in 1995. You have to learn how to pace yourself. You have to learn how to prioritize your effort. You can’t do it all at once.”
Barr announced his bid for Congress last week at Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, not far from his Cobb County home. Tuesday, he met with the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and planned to visit businesses in Cartersville’s historic downtown district. These campaign moves were made to emphasize his small-business platform. A bullet point at the top of his to-do list, he said, would be to help small businesses by reducing burdens and costs incurred by government intrusion.
Another issue is that of simplifying the tax code and in general the protection of individual liberties. In 2008, his advocacy for such measures won him the Libertarian Party nomination for president. As for his return to the Republican Party, Barr cites a change in the Republican Party that he feels now reflects the ideals of “libertarianism with a small ‘L.’”
“Party labels may change over time, but one thing that has never changed for me and that has not changed for the vast majority of people and voters in the 11th District or my old 7th District, is the constitution,” Barr said. “That’s what I have always used as the guiding star for what I do in the political arena. Is it constitutional? Does it fit with our framer’s concept — those things they set out in the Federalist Papers, for example? And folks had strayed from that. The Republican Party, of which I have been a proud member ever since I was in college, had strayed from that. The Republican Party has now very clearly and very firmly recognized that we have to stick to the Constitution. We have to protect people’s individual liberties.
“Just as Ronald Reagan recognized that libertarianism with a small ‘L’ really is at the heart of the Republican Party. It’s the essence of the philosophy of reducing the power of government and increasing individual liberty. I think people are really recognizing that we need to get back to that.”
For more information, visit www.barrcongress.com or search for “Barr Congress” on Facebook for his official campaign fan page.