As Republicans in the Peach State vie for position in the 2014 Senate race, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), who is perhaps the most liberty-minded member of the delegation, released a statement this morning explaining that he will not run for the seat being left open by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).
“The last several weeks have been a very exciting time for me and my family as we considered the opportunity to serve Georgia in the United States Senate. It has been an honor to receive so much support from Georgians and grassroots conservatives around the country, and I am confident that we would run a very competitive campaign,” explained Graves in a statement sent by his office. “My decision rested on what would be best for my family, my district and the state of Georgia, and I have concluded that the right path for now is to forgo this Senate race and continue serving in my current role.”
“After receiving so much encouragement to enter the race, I now know we are at the beginning of a long journey in Georgia state politics,” Graves said. “I look forward to taking on a greater leadership role in our congressional delegation as many of our senior members enter the primary, and it is important for my supporters to know that I intend to continue preparing for future opportunities to serve Georgia.”
Graves has received high-marks from fiscally conservative groups during his time in the House of Representatives. He has a 97% lifetime score with FreedomWorks, 96% with the Club for Growth, and 90% with the National Taxpayers Union. Graves was also one of 27 House Republicans to vote against reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, a law that undermines Fourth Amendment protections.
So who could be the grassroots alternative?
Rep. Paul Broun, who has been solid on fiscal issues and has been generally good on civil liberties, has already announced his candidacy and will attract a lot of support from social conservatives and grassroots fiscal conservatives.
Rep. Tom Price, who serves as Vice Chairman on the House Budget Committee, is still considering the race, but will not make a public decision until May, after work on the budget in completed. Price is an attractive candidate because of his ability to effectively communicate fiscally conservative principles.
Karen Handel, who served as Georgia’s Secretary of State from 2007 to 2010 and unsuccessfully ran for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2010, could also jump in the race. The thinking is that Handel will only run for the Senate seat if Price, who endorsed her gubernatorial bid in 2010, sits it out.
While she is more recently known for her stint at Susan G. Komen, Handel was a fiscal hawk during her tenure as Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and as Secretary of State. Handel managed to erase a $100 budget deficit in Fulton County, which has a heavy slant toward Democrats, without a tax hike and cut the Secretary of State’s budget by 20% and made ethics reform a part of her administration.