WASHINGTON -- With President Obama's approval numbers sinking and the release of a poll last week indicating 56 percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Andy Sere says the GOP is well poised pick up the 39 seats they require to wrest control of the House from the Democrats in November.
Sere said there are several reasons the GOP is encouraged about challenger Mike Keown's chances of unseating U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, in the District 2 House race. Bishop has held the seat for the past 18 years.
"I think the current political environment and a lack of movement on the jobs front help the Republicans and work against Bishop," Sere said. "Mike Keown has turned out to be an impressive challenger and you have to remember that in the 2004 election, George Bush carried the district.
"Sanford Bishop has voted for practically every spending bill put before congress. He's part of the (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi agenda and has not shown the independence voters in the district desire."
Tim Turner, communications director for the Bishop campaign, said the congressman shares some of the same concerns as Keown.
"People are concerned and frustrated, so is Congressman Bishop," Turner said. "He is frustrated that partisanship and name-calling has seemingly trumped statesmanship and cooperation. But Congressman Bishop has great confidence in the wisdom of the voters. He believes that in spite of the collective frustration, they will contrast the two candidates, and will ultimately select the one who has a proven record of delivering results for the people of the 2nd District."
The winner in November is often determined by who spends the most money. According to the latest numbers from the Federal Election Commission, Bishop's campaign has $404,593 cash on hand while Keown has $237,550.
Keown campaign officials say voters should take a good look at that money, and ask where it's coming from.
"Mike Keown's contributions have come from right here in Southwest Georgia," Keown campaign manager Andrew O'Shea said. "Over 95 percent of that money has come from individuals from right here while Bishop has had to rely on Washington lobbyists to fund his reelection."
Jesse Ferguson, the southern regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee thinks the district's voters can draw their own conclusions
"There's little chance that independent minded voters of Georgia's 2nd district are going to back someone with a dangerous, job-killing agenda to send Georgia jobs overseas and stand with the big Wall Street banks who put our economy into the ditch," Ferguson said.
University of Georgia professor of political science Charles Bulloch says November could be rough for the Democrats.
"This could be a bad year for the Democrats because the polls are suggesting that the Republican base is more energized right now," Bulloch said. "Plus mid-term elections -- except in rare instances -- favor the party that lost in the previous election."
But Bulloch stressed that Bishop can win by pulling his base together.
"He (Bishop) is in a district with a high African American population," Bulloch said. "He has to get that vote out, hold the black vote together and then get the white farmers to vote for him."
According to 2000 numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, District 2 is 48.8 percent white and 47.8 percent African American.
Turner said it is important for the voters of the Second District to remember what Bishop the has meant to the area over the past 18 years.
"He (Bishop) is well positioned to continue delivering for the people of our area through his service on the Agriculture, Defense, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs subcommittees of the powerful House Appropriations Committee," Turner said. "He is one of only 65 House members -- of the 435 members -- who are in a position to direct and allocate our tax dollars.
"He has delivered billions of dollars and created and protected thousands of jobs through his service over the years and continues to do so."
While Bishop has delivered to the district over the past 18 years, O'Shea says it's now time to rein in the spending.
"Bishop has supported Nancy Pelosi every step of the way by voting for every spending and tax increase. He spends until it's gone and then goes into overdrive. The result is a debt that is in the trillions," O'Shea said. "Mike Keown is a blue-collar conservative that has over 24 years of public service experience. He is a hard worker and his work ethic has spilled over into the way he campaigns. His message of lower taxes, balanced budget and job creation are sitting well with the voters of southwest Georgia."