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Sen. Chambliss won't seek re-election

In this Nov. 16, 2012 file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. waits to speak with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. An AP Source says Chambliss to announce he will not seek re-election in 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

In this Nov. 16, 2012 file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. waits to speak with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. An AP Source says Chambliss to announce he will not seek re-election in 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

WASHINGTON — Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Friday he will not seek a third term next year, expressing deep frustration with Washington gridlock that he doesn't see changing in a divided government.

Chambliss, 69, rejected suggestions he couldn't have survived a likely GOP primary fight with the tea party, insisting he has a proud conservative record and noting he received more votes than any other statewide official in Georgia history in 2008.

Instead, he cited his frustration with both Democratic President Barack Obama and the lack of meaningful legislation in Congress.

"The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst, and sadly, I don't see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon," Chambliss said. "For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy.

His strong words of disappointment echoed those of former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, who also complained about the partisan divide and Washington dysfunction in announcing she wouldn't run again last year.

Chambliss, 69, has been a GOP loyalist for much of his House and Senate career, but he earned the wrath of some in his party for participating in a bipartisan Senate "Gang of Six" intent on finding a way to reduce the deficit. The group advocated a mix of tax increases, anathema to many in the GOP, and spending cuts. The group failed to reach agreement and produce a bargain.

Although no major Republican candidate had announced a challenge to Chambliss, he was facing the distinct possibility of a tough race. His decision was certain to set off a GOP scramble for the seat.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., an 11-term House veteran, said he was considering seeking the seat. Kingston, 57, said his knowledge of defense and agriculture, important issues in Georgia, would help him in a race.

"Regardless of what happens, it's going to be a 10-person race," Kingston said in a telephone interview from Israel, where he was traveling with other lawmakers. "And I think you'll probably have a self-funder in there, and you can have a mad scramble."

Among other potential Republican candidates is four-term Rep. Tom Price from a district north of Atlanta. Pizza mogul Herman Cain, the failed presidential candidate in 2012 and a tea party favorite, may again set his sights on the Senate seat after running in 2004.

Chambliss was first elected to the House in the 1994 Republican wave. He moved up to the Senate after a bruising 2002 campaign in which he defeated Democratic incumbent Max Cleland, a triple amputee from his Vietnam war service.

He was criticized for a slashing campaign against Cleland that included an ad, featuring terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, criticizing the Democrat — a decorated Vietnam War veteran — for his record on defense and homeland security issues. Even some of Chambliss' fellow Republicans said it went too far.

Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Democrats will try to win back the seat.

"Georgia will now offer Democrats one of our best pick-up opportunities of the cycle. There are already several reports of the potential for a divisive primary that will push Republicans to the extreme right. Regardless, there's no question that the demographics of the state have changed, and Democrats are gaining strength. This will be a top priority."

Democrats hold a 55-45 advantage in the Senate but will be defending more seats next year — 20 to the GOP's 13. Democrats will be scrambling to hold onto the seat in GOP-leaning West Virginia, where five-term Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller recently announced he would not seek re-election. Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is running for the Senate seat.

Democratic incumbents also face tough re-election races in Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina and Alaska — all states that went Republican in the last presidential election.

An open seat in Georgia, which has trended Republican, presents a legitimate opportunity for Democrats, especially if the GOP faces a divisive primary. Potential Democratic candidates are conservative Rep. John Barrow, who has survived redistricting in his House races, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Other possible Republican candidates are two other House members — Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, both physicians. Broun gained national attention last year when he described evolution as a lie "from the pit of Hell." Gingrey claimed the spotlight earlier this month when he defended controversial statements about abortion made last year by failed Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin.

Comments

suedehead 1 year, 10 months ago

See ya, Saxby. Don't let the door hit ya in the rear. The tatics his campaign used to unseat Cleland were deplorable and told me all I needed to know about his character. Of course, the same names pop up as possible candidates. Isn't ANYONE tired of the same ol same ol representing us?

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kevin 1 year, 10 months ago

He decided to throw in the towel. I think he has been getting more and more negative emails to him because he is not voting like his constituents want him to vote. I wish the GOP would get a backbone and stop the spending in its tracks. We are prepared for any sudden consequences to turn this government and its debt around now, not in 10 years. I must give him some credit however. If the voting idiots in this country would take the time to study what Obama has saddled their families and kids with, they would kiss the ground and vote GOP to take our country back to the citizens. On a second note, just having the Liberals in office has actually been great for gun holders. They have tripled in ownership for the tyranny from this government may not be far away. I wouldn't trust a Liberal's words as far as I could smell one.

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BuzzG 1 year, 10 months ago

"...insisting he has a proud conservative record..."

"A lie, repeated often enough, becomes the truth." Joe Stalin

C'mon Herman Cain. It's now or never.

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jack 1 year, 10 months ago

One less incumbent to vote against.

Unless a current incumbent runs for the position.

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CD 1 year, 10 months ago

I can just see the stars in Mikey Boy's eyes now. What a platform:

  • Against free choice and competition via his trash plan
  • Promotes and encourages Gwinnett's own "bridge to nowhere" a.k.a Briscoe Field
  • Never once saw a spending plan he didn't like or a tax increase that was not justified

or how about Balfour? He could tout his excellent record-keeping abilities.

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Gwinnettsince1991 1 year, 10 months ago

Please, someone with a backbone... who can stand up to all the wasteful spending.

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Kent 1 year, 10 months ago

Mr. Chambliss is a legend in his own mind. He is a poster child for what is wrong with the Republican party. Both him and his pal Johnny (along with their spouses ) made junket trips to Greenland to see for themselves the effect of climate change with the taxpayers footing the bill. Saxby has made sure the farmers in Ga. get the maximum agriculture subsidies allowable. He has done nothing to cut the food stamp program which is completely out of control (the majority of ag. subsidies go to the so called food nutrition program). The cellulose to ethanol facilities in Ga. he promoted cost the taxpayers over $150 million dollars that they were left holding the bag for. He voted Y on the last fiscal cliff legislation. He gives lip service only to decreasing the size of government and actually cutting taxes. All those votes he brags about getting in 2008 is attributable to the fact that conservatives were casting their vote against his opponent rather than voting for this narcissistic political hack. These ares just a few examples how Saxby has serviced the people of GA.

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SuxBeanU 1 year, 9 months ago

Hopefully with him gone it will be one less hand in our pockets. (one can wish)

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rco1847 1 year, 8 months ago

Maybe we could get Shirley Lassiter, Mike Kinnerly and Charles Bannister to run.

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