Democrat Jim Marshall has been sitting comfortably in his middle Georgia congressional seat since 2003. As he seeks re-election for a 5th term this fall, it appears he’s facing his toughest challenge yet. The incumbent is being called into the ring by Republican state representative Austin Scott, who is ready to make changes in Washington that will grow Georgia’s economy and create jobs.
The 8th Congressional District of the Peach State is spread out over 7,200 square miles, including all of Macon and Bibb counties. Stretching from Newtown, a county in metro Atlanta, to Colquitt, a county just outside the Florida border, it is a Republican-leaning district where John McCain won by a double-digit margin during the 2008 presidential election. Scott received 53%, winning without a runoff, in July’s three-way primary. He enters the general election well-positioned to take advantage of this district’s R+10 Cook Partisan Voting Index score.
Marshall was initially elected to the House in 2002, and was previously mayor of the city of Macon from 1995 to 1999. He was unsuccessful in his bid for the seat in 2000, and barely skimmed by in 2002 with 51%, and again with the same percentage in 2006. The tepid trust voters have in Marshall is just as unsteady as his voting record. Even though he is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of so-called conservative Democrats in Congress, he stood beside the president on his failed $787 billion economic stimulus plan, and voted to increase the national debt to record levels. In fact, he votes with Democrat leaders like House Speaker and ultra-liberal Californian Nancy Pelosi over 88% of the time.
Though this race has developed late, Scott outraised Marshall during his debut fundraising quarter – a rare feat for a challenger. The Cook Political Report now rates this race as a “toss-up,” in part because the latest polling data shows a close 5-point race.
Scott has been a proven, independent conservative in the state legislature. A small businessman, Scott wants to reduce taxes, rein in spending and crack down on illegal immigration in Congress.