Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has had a rough last couple of weeks. His willingness to break his no-tax pledge to Georgians has set off grassroots fiscal conservatives. Chambliss now finds himself in a vulnerable position, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling, and potentially facing a primary challenge.
The blowback has been substantial. According to Daniel Malloy at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) declined endorse Chambliss in a recent interview, claiming that it was “too early to pick winners and losers”:
Malloy: “There is a lot of talk going around the state about Saxby Chambliss getting a Republican primary challenge. Would you support him if he does?”
Deal: “It’s way too early to be picking winners and losers and people that you’re going to support and not support. He’s a friend of mine. I served with him in the U.S. House and he will continue to be a friend of mine.”
During a recent interview with CNN, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who is emerging as the favorite among grassroots activists, declined to say whether or not he’ll run against Chambliss:
House Republican Tom Price of Georgia refused to say whether he would challenge Senator Saxby Chambliss in the 2014 GOP primary. In a Tuesday afternoon appearance on CNN, Price was asked by host Brooke Baldwin if he would “mount a primary challenge” against Chambliss. He at first dodged the question.
“What we’re trying to do right now is to solve the remarkable challenges that we have. Any discussion about 2014 is extremely premature,” Price said.
“I know, I know. Maybe you don’t want to answer my question. But I’m a journalist, and I get to ask. Can I just get a yes or no, sir?” Baldwin tried again. Price laughed before answering.
“No, you can’t get a yes or no,” Price said.
Price has been asked this question before. He usually gave a canned answer similar to what he said on CNN, though most noted that he didn’t say “no.” But read between the lines, Price is considering it. Had he won the race for House Republican Conference Chairman, thus moving up the GOP leadership ladder, it would be a different story. Price would stay put.
Most feel that Price is the best candidate to take on Chambliss, which is why, as noted above, grassroots activists are encouraging him to run. He’s really the guy to watch right now, regardless of other names being mentioned.