Looking at the field to replace Saxby Chambliss


With Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) deciding to retire, potential candidates on both sides of the aisle are weighing bids for the open seat, including former Secretary of State Karen Handel and Reps. Paul Broun and Tom Price. A couple of Georgia-based political consultants didn’t waste any time in measuring the strength of the likely crowded Republican field.

Todd Rehm, who runs GaPundit.com, put out the first poll on Monday morning, which found that former Gov. Sonny Perdue would be a strong candidate.

  • Sonny Perdue: 22.4%
  • Karen Handel: 15%
  • Paul Broun: 10.3%
  • Tom Price: 9.7%
  • Lynn Westmoreland: 8.4%
  • Tom Graves: 6.3%
  • Brian Kemp: 3.4%
  • Undecided: 24.5%

Over at Peach Pundit, Mike Hassinger, who conducted a poll for his firm, Apache Political, shows that Herman Cain would lead the field if he jumped in the race.

  • Herman Cain: 39.3%
  • Tom Price: 8.5%
  • Sonny Perdue: 7.3%
  • Jack Kingston: 6.8%
  • Paul Broun: 6.6%
  • Karen Handel: 4.3%
  • Lynn Westmoreland: 2.9%
  • Brian Kemp: 1.7%
  • Undecided: 22.6%

There is obviously going to be a lot of politicking over the next several months as potential candidates try to position themselves for this race. And while there are a lot of names being mentioned, here’s a look at each of the candidates on my radar right now (in alphabetical order, note the ratings with lifetime scores parentesis):

Rep. Paul Broun: Broun has been one of the strongest in the Georgia congressional delegation on fiscal issue, but his outspoken socially conservative views are going to drive many grassroots groups away from supporting him. Word is Broun is seriously considering jumping in the race.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle: Cagle was once thought to be in good position to run for governor in 2010, but that didn’t work out. His tenure has been rife with controversy, which eventually led to him being stripped of power by his own caucus. It’s not certain how serious Cagle, who is up for re-election in 2014, is about the race, but a crowded field would be a deterrent.

Herman Cain: Cain ran in 2004, finishing second place ahead of then Rep. Mac Collins. However, then-Rep. Johnny Isakson won the race. Cain ran a grassroots campaign in 2012 for the GOP presidential nomination. But Cain, who would be the odds on favorite, has said that he will not run.

Rep. Tom Graves: Graves may not be as well known in Georgia as some of the other names, but conservatives love him. There has already been some talk from grassroots and fiscally conservative groups about a Graves’ candidacy. It’s too early to say what he’s going to do, after all, he has a seat in the House for as long as he wants it. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run.

Rep. Phil Gingrey: He’s weighing a bid, but there will be pressure for him to stay put. Gingrey also has gotten himself in some trouble recently after trying to justify the “legitimate rape” comments made last year by Todd Akin. Gingrey isn’t likely to run if Kingston or Price decide to get in the race.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel: Handel isn’t likely to run if Price, who endorsed her during her unsuccessful bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2010, decides to make the jump between chambers. She may decide to run for the seat left open by Price in GA-06.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp: It would be a surprise if Kemp decides to run. He’s up for re-election in 2014. Everyone in the political scene in Georgia knows that he has ambitions for higher office, but everything to this point has indicated that he’d run for governor after Nathan Deal is done.

Rep. Jack Kingston: Kingston, who has served in the House since 1993, is very likely to run. He’s had a love/hate relationship with some of the groups that are likely to get involved in the race. If there are more conservative options out there, expect those groups to come out against Kingston, who is closer to the mold of Chambliss.

Attorney General Sam Olens: Olens is a wildcard. He served as commission chairman in Cobb County, one of the most populous counties in the state, and got some facetime at the Republican National Convention last year due to his role in fighting ObamaCare. Like Kemp, it was thought that Olens would eventually run for governor.

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue: According to Peach Pundit, Perdue,who was a terrible on fiscal issues during his eight years in officeisn’t running.

Rep. Tom Price: Price was considering a primary challenge against Chambliss anyway. He’s running. While Graves may be courted by some grassroots groups, Price probably has the best chance to win the primary of the strong fiscal conservatives considering a bid.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: Westmoreland has been moving up the ranks of Republican leadership in the House. While he was once thought to like the idea of moving up, Westmoreland is likely to stay put.

There is still a long way to go until July 2014, when Georgia Republicans will head to the polls, but the race will be a significant moment for grassroots and the freedom movement to pick the type of candidate they want going forward. There are a couple good names here. Choose wisely.

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