ELLIJAY, GA-- Oscar Poole isn't normally one to worry about Republicans.
Poole's GOP pedigree goes beyond his yellow Uncle Sam suit and the GOP luminaries whose photos line the wall of his Ellijay barbeque restaurant. Poole was an early backer of Tom Graves, the young Georgia congressman who helped lead the GOP's tea party contingent to force a government funding standoff that's concluding its second week.
But now, Poole is worried. "It might be time to back off. I don't know," Poole said, musing on his party's stance on the shutdown.
Last week, Rep. Graves told us that the strategy to bring down Obamacare by shutting down the government was inspired by Poole's neighbors -- voters in his conservative northwest Georgia district.
And Graves and other Congressional backers still have strong support in their Georgia base.
"I think they need to stay shut down. I think (Republicans) need to dig their heels in," said Mary Pearce of Gainesville, a constituent of Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga), whose district adjoins Graves'.
"Wrong or right, it's probably the only way we can go at this point," concurred Dottie Galloway of Gainesville. Pearce and Galloway spent lunchtime Friday's at Poole's BBQ.
Here's how conservative this area is: In the 2012 presidential elections, the two congressional districts representing northwest Georgia voted in larger numbers for Republican Mitt Romney than any other congressional district in Georgia. (Romney won Rep. Collins' 9th district with 78.1% of the vote. Only two districts in Texas gave Romney higher percentages.)
But Poole, a three-time Republican national convention delegate, says he smells trouble in the GOP's strategy to bring down Obamacare by shutting down the government.
"I wish somebody would give something, and we'd get our government running again," Poole said.
Even if it means backing away from shutting down Obamacare? "Well, I think so," Poole said. "I don't know this but I think so because of my fear that we're getting the blame in 2014," the next round of congressional elections.
Poole says he thinks the shutdown may be undermining Republicans in the long term. That, he says, is why he worries.