Here in the home of timber yards, BB-gun champs and DEET-defying gnats, John Barrow is fighting for survival.
He's the last standing white Democrat from the Deep South in the U.S. House of Representatives, a remaining sliver of a party machine that once brokered power for the region's establishment.
John Barrow, the last white Democratic congressman from the Deep South, is fighting to win in a conservative district.
Barrow's political death, if it comes on Election Day, would serve as a stark signal of the electoral realignment dividing Southern Democrats and Republicans along racial lines.
The ramifications are huge -- not just in the South, but nationally -- in determining the future of both parties, say political observers and historians who are closely watching Barrow's uphill battle.
If Barrow loses, every Democratic congressman from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia will be black. Every Republican will be white, save Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who was elected in 2010 with Tea Party backing.
Barrow finds himself working hard for votes in Georgia towns swept by a tide of Republican Red -- towns like Baxley, where, among many folks, saying "Democrat" is like taking the devil's name.
Barrow has attended the "Redneck Games" in Dublin and recently hosted a barbecue dinner at the American Legion Altamaha Post 26, where he bought five raffle tickets for a Mossberg Model 500A 12-gauge shotgun.
He might belong to the party of his daddy and his granddaddy, but his public persona stands far removed from Washington's Democratic leadership.
"A Democratic label is a killer in that district," says Emory University political scientist Merle Black, an authority on Southern politics. "The Democratic Party across the Deep South is in real trouble with white voters."
To make matters tougher, the GOP-controlled Georgia legislature redrew the boundaries for Barrow's 12th District following the 2010 census, making his constituency even redder.
Barrow knows he can't win without a chunk of conservative Republicans crossing over.
But those who have followed his career say if anyone can defy political odds, it's Barrow.
"This is a district that went for (John) McCain and it will go for Mitt Romney this fall," Black says.
Theoretically, it should be virtually impossible for Barrow to win a fifth term. But he's done it before.
He's known as a survivor.
And he acts like one on the campaign trail.
'Made in Georgia'
On a muggy October morning, Barrow is on the second leg of his "Made in Georgia" tour.
He's determined to get to know manufacturing companies in Appling and Coffee counties. They are new additions to a district that sprawls north along the Savannah River to Augusta and westward into towns like Vidalia, as in sweet onion fame, and Dublin, home to a VA hospital and plenty of shamrocks.
The territory feels familiar -- same land, people and values that dominate counties that were already in Barrow's district. But many here don't know his name, except maybe through the barrage of television commercials.
"I don't know if you know about my politics," Barrow tells Jimmy Cook, owner of a Baxley nursery that grows everything from peppers to poinsettias.
"Actually, I'm an independent," Barrow says. "If Obama is doing what's right for Georgia, then I'm on his side. If he's not, then I'm not."
Down the road, folks like Stephen Worthington, director of Southeast wood procurement at lumber giant Rayonier, are fans of Rep. Jack Kingston, the Republican who represented these counties until redistricting.
Worthington talks timber with Barrow, giving him a hard-hat-and-safety-glasses tour past menacing machinery that makes 1,200-pound pine logs look as light as toothpicks.