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ERICJOHNSON

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Barrow Sheffield relishes underdog role Dublin attorney Maria Sheffield is the least known, least funded and probably the least feared among the four Republican candidates eyeing each other for the chance to run against Democratic incumbent John Barrow for Georgia’s 12th Congressional District. But according to her, she’s proud to be what some would dismissively call a “grassroots” candidate.

“It makes it hard to run a race when you haven’t raised $300,000, but it’s not an auction where the candidate goes to the highest bidder,” she says. “It makes it easier if everybody on your campaign disclosure list is willing to write you a $2,500 check, but for a lot of people that’s the end of their involvement. Those people who give you that $5 — they’d go to war with you to make sure they get a conservative in D.C. That’s the difference.” Those campaign disclosures have been the source of woe for all the candidates lately. When businessman Rick Allen started pointing fingers at the inner workings of Evans real estate attorney Wright McLeod’s campaign, that set a lot of people from all sides combing through the disclosures. In Sheffield’s case, the woe comes from the fact that she has raised so little money. With Allen and McLeod raising well above $250,000 apiece and Grovetown farmer Lee Anderson raising just over $200,000, Sheffield is pulling up the rear, having raised only $14,000 beyond a $100,000 loan. That’s enough to get you left off the debate list in some places, but Sheffield insists that in the day and age of social media, ground-up campaigning can be effective. “I think you do win races without having the most money,” she says. “It means you work a lot harder because you spend a lot more time out there in the district going door to door and making those telephone calls.” Unlike some, who it’s been suggested have come by their conservative viewpoint through opportunism or a shrug, Sheffield earned her conservative stripes at a young age. She was five when her father, a full-time member of the Air National Guard, was forced to retire due to medical issues. When she was 15, her mother was killed by a driver who was high on drugs. “Because of that and because of my father’s disability, I found myself in a situation from an early age knowing that I was going to have to support myself,” she says. “There wasn’t going to be a safety net or back up.” She later spent nine years caring for a grandmother suffering from dementia. “My parents were not involved in anything political — at all,” she says. “Still, there was that sense that you don’t rely on someone else.” While overcoming such hardships took tenacity and a singular desire to succeed, it instilled in her an allegiance to the conservative values that makes some of the well-publicized chatter coming from the other campaigns tough for her to take. “All I know about these issues is what I’ve heard,” she says. “I have not spent one penny of campaign money to investigate any of these allegations and what’s going on. But to me, something that relates to policy is someone who has voted consistently as a Democrat.” She is speaking foremost of Wright McLeod, who the Allen campaign demonstrated voted for Democrats in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2010. “He can explain that any way he wants, but I will tell you, grassroots conservatives look at a vote for a Democrat in a presidential preference primary…” she lets her voice trail off. “There’s no explanation for that.” She claims his 2008 decision to vote in the Democratic primary didn’t show fellow Naval Academy graduate John McCain the same consideration he’s now requesting from veterans and military families.

METR O

NEWS 28JUNE2012

AUGUSTA’S INDEPENDENT VOICE SINCE 1989

METROSPIRIT 11

Metro Spirit 06.28.2012  

The Metro Spirit is a free weekly newspaper that serves readers in the Augusta and North Augusta area. Editorial coverage includes Richmond...

Metro Spirit 06.28.2012  

The Metro Spirit is a free weekly newspaper that serves readers in the Augusta and North Augusta area. Editorial coverage includes Richmond...

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