Burns loses seat to Democrat challenger
Georgia's 12th Congressional District
(CNN) -- Democratic challenger John Barrow beat Republican Rep. Max Burns in the race for Georgia's 12th District seat, according to CNN projections.
Burns, 45, a former Screven County Commission Chairman who serves on the House committees -- Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Education and the Workforce -- was elected in 2002 but faced a difficult time earning re-election against Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow, 49.
The race, which had been relatively calm for much of the summer and early fall, ended with a bang, as both candidates engaged in sharp rhetoric by early October.
In their last debate, Burns and Barrow fired unfriendly salvos, illustrating the intensity of the race heading down the stretch. Barrow attacked Burns for supporting a national sales tax, which the Democrat said would raise taxes on the middle class while giving big business a break.
"He gets an A-plus on the big-business-friendly test. In fact, he's the teacher's pet," said Barrow, who was attacked in a Republican-funded TV ad for flunking a scorecard by his own Chamber of Commerce.
Meanwhile, Burns accused his opponent of "dodging the issue" on same-sex marriage, a topic that was on the Georgia ballot November 2.
"It has been an issue he will not come out and be direct on," said Burns, who favored both the state and federal bans. "He's dodging the issue."
Barrow and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did their best to portray Burns as a lackey for national Republicans, pointing to his votes for "foreign trade deals" and his opposition to drug re-importation.
Burns retaliated by attempting to label Barrow a "liberal trial lawyer" and culturally out of step with this sprawling Eastern Georgia district.
The district, which stretches from Athens to Augusta to Savannah, is 40 percent black. Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore garnered 54 percent of the vote there in 2000. But Democrats remained uneasy throughout the race, never releasing any polling data from the district, a sign that Burns' support may have been a little stronger than they expected.