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.
Karen Handel is hoping that her record as a political outsider willing to shake up the status quo will help propel her to victory in the competitive Republican primary for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat.
The race is interesting because it’s a potential battleground for control of the Senate. Handel is one of eight candidates currently running in the Republican primary. The field also includes three sitting U.S. Congressman, Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston. Whoever wins the primary will likely face Michelle Nunn, a Democrat and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), in November.
Handel served as Fulton County Commission chair from 2003 to 2007. In 2006, she ran successfully for Georgia Secretary of State, a position she held from 2007 until 2009, when she resigned for to run for governor. Though she made it to the runoff, Handel lost to former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) by 2,519 votes.
That may cause some to ask how Handel can claim to be an anti-establishment outsider, after all, she’s served in elected office, statewide office, at that. The answer is pretty simple. Handel made national headlines in January 2012 when Susan G. Komen for the Cure, where she served as vice president, cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.
A new poll out of Georgia shows Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee, leads each of the four top Republican contenders in a Senate race that could decide control of the chamber this fall.
Conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Americans United for Change, a leftist organization, the poll found Nunn leading Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), 42/41, and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), 45/41.
Nunn, the daughter for former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), also leads former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, 44/40, and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), 44/42. The poll has a 3.9% margin of error.
Democrats have been keen on Nunn’s chances. She’s running in the center on most issues, including Obamacare, hoping that the political landscape in Georgia has changed enough put her in the Senate.
On the surface, the poll seems like good news for Nunn, who has been endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). But the party ID breakdown is questionable. Public Policy Polling surmises that Democrats and Republicans will each compromise 38% of Georgia voters. That’s probably not an accurate picture of the state’s electorate, at least for Democrats.
Todd Rehm, a Georgia-based political consultant, estimates that Republicans compromise around 35% of the electorate, while Democrats represent a little less than 31%. The remaining 34% are independents.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who is seeking the GOP nomination for Georgia’s open Senate seat, told a local talk radio host that the current mood of his Republican colleagues about Obamacare, which is to let the law fail, may not be responsible:
Speaking to local conservative radio station Z Politics, Kingston mentioned the “Small Business Fairness in ObamaCare Act” that he introduced, which would exempt some small businesses from the mandate to provide insurance to their employees under ObamaCare.
“And there’s some criticism, ‘Well, are you helping improve this law when you make that change? And should we be doing that?’” Kingston said of pushback to his bill.
“A lot of conservatives say, ‘Nah, let’s just step back and let this thing fall to pieces on its own.’ But I don’t think that’s always the responsible thing to do,” he added.
“I think we need to be looking for things that improve healthcare overall for all of us. And if there is something in ObamaCare, we need to know about it.”
A Kingston spokesman, Chris Crawford, said in an email to The Hill that Kingston was advocating for a replacement for the law in his interview.
“He essentially said that we don’t just need to wait for Obamacare to die under its own weight, we need to be looking for solutions that would replace it,” he said.
The Times Free Press, a Tennessee-based newspaper, asked author Victoria Jackson, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and myself about Sarah Palin’s return to Fox News and whether or not she does more harm than good to the Republican Party.
Here’s my response:
Sarah Palin is still an influential figure in the conservative movement. She has significant influence among the grassroots and can help fiscal conservatives in the mold of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul win primaries against establishment candidates. That sort of clout is hard to dismiss or downplay.
Recent comments made by Palin about the need for Republicans to listen to libertarians were encouraging. She sees an ally in the fight against a government that is a threat to our liberties and the need for Republicans to take a libertarian direction. That’s somewhat inside baseball, but important in the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
Palin’s influence is in the primaries, which is important. But when voters step into the ballot box on Nov. 4, 2014, they’re going to care little about her or what she’s said. What will matter to them are the effects of the policies that have been pursued and enacted by the Obama Administration.
What do you think about Palin’s return to Fox News and her impact on the Republican Party? Let us know on United Liberty’s Facebook page.
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.