Over the last six years, I’ve been watching Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) very closely. Back in 2008, Chambliss faced a tough challenge in a three-way, finding himself in a runoff against Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat.
Part of the problem was campaign organization. Insider Advantage quoted an unidentified Republican who said that Chambliss and company had the organization of a “bad state House race,” calling it a “embarrassing campaign.” There was also the perception of Chambliss among Georgia Republicans. Insider Advantage again quoted a unidentified Republican who said, “Saxby’s reputation is that he’s spent six years in Washington playing golf. He’s gone on lots of trips. He hasn’t done the down-and-dirty constituent work.”
“Saxby bragged about it his first four years – how much golf he was getting in. It was a real problem and it irked a lot of people,” said the unnamed Republican source. Many Republicans in the state were less than thrilled with Chambliss, who hadn’t been able to endear himself to the state party the way Sen. Johnny Isakson had.
Another issue that hurt Chambliss was that he had lost the support of many fiscal conservatives in Georgia because of his votes that put taxpayers at risk.
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.”
Sen. Taxby Shambliss Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), one of a handful of Republicans who are thought to be facing a tough primary challenge in 2014 due to their willingness to break their no-tax pledge, may want to take a look at a new survey from Public Policy Polling.
While Chambliss leads most of his potential challengers, there is a number here that would scare any incumbent hoping to get past controversy (emphasis mine):
According to a survey from the Democratic-leaning Public Policing Polling (PPP) released Tuesday, just 38 percent of Republican primary voters want Chambliss to win the GOP nomination. Chambliss is up for reelection in 2014.
The biggest challenge to Chambliss, the poll found, would be one by Cain, who has said he would not run for Chambliss’s seat. PPP found Cain leading Chambliss 50 to 36 percent in a head-to-head match-up.
The poll also found Chambliss leads other contenders regularly mentioned as possible challengers. He leads Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) 57 to 14 percent in a head-to-head match-up. Against Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Chambliss is also the front-runner, leading 52 to 34 percent. Lastly, Chambliss leads former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel 52 to 23 percent.
According to Public Policy Polling, 43% of Republicans wants someone “more conservative.” Another red-flag for Chambliss is the fact that his approval rating is below 50%.
Though he was flirting with a primary challenge against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Erick Erickson, editor of RedState and talk show host on Atlanta-based WSB Radio, announced on Friday that he has decided not to run:
Were I to run for the Senate, it would be a terribly nasty campaign. It’d actually be really awesome, but it’d be really nasty. I have a seven year old, a soon to be four year old, and a wife who does not like being anywhere near a stage. I’m not putting my family through that when the best outcome would mean a sizable pay cut and being away from my kids and wife all the time huddled in a pit of vipers often surrounded by too many who viewed me as a useful instrument to their own advancement.
I appreciate all the support. I really do. In the past week I’ve learned who real friends are and are not. It has been eye opening. I had been all along very, very dismissive of running. But given the efforts of several and the financial pledges of support, I figured I should actually take the time to seriously and prayerfully consider it out of respect for those who asked and offered to help.
You can’t blame Erickson for deciding not run. Chambliss has a history of dirty campaigning. In his successful bid for the United States Senate in 2002, Chambliss ran run an ad using the image of Osama bin Laden against his opponent, then-Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), who opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. So there is little doubt that the race would get nasty, especially if Chambliss really feels that his political life is threatened.