Photo: Courtesy of ABC News
Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss announced Wednesday that he will not run for re-election in 2014 — and there is already a very crowded field of politicians hoping to take his place.Chambliss, who has been in office since 2003, was already facing criticism from conservative Republicans angered at his sharp dismissal of a Grover Norquist pledge to not raise taxes. “Sen. Chambliss is not very popular among a lot of the conservative grass roots,” said Debbie Dooley, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots and the co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party.
Although he denies that this backlash factored into his decision not to seek re-election, Chambliss would have been one of the most vulnerable Republicans to a 2014 primary challenge from the right.
Now that he’s officially out, here’s who could be the next senator from Georgia:
Rep. Tom Price (R): A member of the House of Representatives since 2004, Price was recently named Vice Chairman of the House Budget Committee, making him the right-hand man to GOP star Paul Ryan. (Price also sits on the Ways and Means and Education committees.)
Price boasts serious conservative credentials, including a 97 per cent rating from the American Conservative Union, a 100 per cent pro-life rating from National Right to Life Committee, and 92 per cent rating from the National Rifle Association. Human Events also calls him a Tea Party favourite.
Karen Handel (R): She served as Georgia Secretary of State from 2007 to 2010 until resigning for an unsuccessful (but close) gubernatorial run. She later was appointed to a top position with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leading charity raising money in the fight against breast cancer.
She left that position in Feb 2012 after a much-publicized battle between Planned Parenthood and Komen, which often provided grants to the organisation for preventive care. Handel apparently pushed for the organisation to drop that funding after she was hired, which certainly gives her a boost among social conservatives.
According to Jim Galloway at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, however, Handel and Price have close political and geographic connections, and they most likely won’t run against each other.
Rep. Paul Broun (R): He’s been representing Georgia in Congress since 2007 and serves on a number of committees, including Homeland Security and Natural Resources. He also chairs the subcommittee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Broun receives high marks from many conservative groups, with a near-perfect 99 per cent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, 100 per cent pro-life rating from National Right to Life Committee, and 92 per cent rating from the National Rifle Association.
Some controversial statements may hinder his run, however. He’s compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx. In a recent interview, he said: “I think the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution.”
Herman Cain (R): The eclectic Atlanta pizza magnate earned a national following with his short-lived 2012 presidential campaign, and his name has been floated as a possible candidate for Chambliss’ seat in 2014.
But while another Cain campaign would certainly liven up the race, it seems unlikely since he just took over for Neal Boortz with his own syndicated talk radio show and recently launched his own online television network.
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