With Saxby out, these Georgians might run for Senate in 2014 (With updates)

My colleague Jim Galloway drops a mighty big political bomb for a Friday morning more than 21 months before the next election: Saxby Chambliss reportedly has told his senior staff members he will not run for re-election next year. (Update at 11:40: An announcement from Chambliss’ office just arrived, making it official. He’s not running.)

There’s been plenty of speculation about this possibility in the past, and just a couple of weeks ago he told me — in probably the strongest terms he’d used to that point — that he was seriously considering it. Now that it’s set to become official this morning, we can begin speculating in earnest about who might run for that seat.

In my mind, the list is not short. Here are some possible names, in alphabetical order and with some thoughts about their respective likelihood of running:

Paul Broun: The congressman from Georgia’s 10th District is first on the list alphabetically but probably would be first on the list if I were ranking the possibilities by likelihood of running, too. He has been not-so-coy about giving consideration to running for the seat. Update at 1:25 p.m.: A statement from Broun says he is still “prayerfully considering my own future.”

Casey Cagle/Brian Kemp/Sam Olens: Georgia’s lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general, respectively, all appear to be lining up for a battle royale in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial primary (i.e., after Gov. Nathan Deal would have served two terms). Might one of them see an open Senate seat and give serious thought to making his move four years earlier? If so, it would almost certainly be just one of these three — and quite possibly none of them. Update at 12:35 p.m.: Olens did not rule out running when asked.

Herman Cain: The erstwhile presidential candidate ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, losing in the GOP primary to now-Sen. Johnny Isakson, and the local rumor mill has been churning about his possible interest in challenging Chambliss. That said, he is already publicly denying he has any interest. Of course, he did just start a job this very week as Neal Boortz’s replacement at WSB radio, so he’d pretty much have to say that, right? Keep an eye on him just in case.

Phil Gingrey (new addition to the list at 5:12 p.m.): The congressman from Georgia’s 11th District. I had heard mostly that Gingrey wasn’t really interested in running statewide, but a spokeswoman emails to say he “is receiving lots of encouragement and leaving all options on the table.” So, he’s on the list.

Newt Gingrich: I wouldn’t have put him on the list, but his spokesman did not at all deny the former U.S. speaker and presidential candidate might have interest when my colleague Daniel Malloy asked about it. So, here he is. (Update at 12:35 p.m.: A spokesman says Gingrich is not running.)

Tom Graves: The congressman from Georgia’s 14th District is a tea-party favorite and widely believed to have higher ambitions. He might be less inclined to run if Broun gets in.

Karen Handel: She’s a former Georgia secretary of state, past gubernatorial candidate and, famously, a central figure in the dispute over Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s short-lived decision to end subsidies to Planned Parenthood. At this point, I think she’s less likely to run for this seat than a lot of the early buzz would have it. I think it’s more likely she would run in the 6th Congressional District if Tom Price were to run (see below). But if Price doesn’t run for Senate, I suppose that could change.

Jack Kingston: The congressman from Georgia’s 1st District indicated in a statement today that he’s considering a run. That’s somewhat surprising, given how much trouble his fellow Savannah resident Eric Johnson had in simply gaining name ID for a gubernatorial run in 2010. But Kingston is on TV a fair amount and has a plum spot on the House Appropriations Committee, so maybe he likes his chances.

Barry Loudermilk: The state senator from Cartersville is believed to have interest, but most likely if Broun does not run. At this point, and with so many other big names likely considering the race, it’s possible we won’t see any state legislators running for the U.S. Senate — but participation by those big names could draw a lot of state legislators to run for the U.S. House.

Sonny Perdue: Put Georgia’s immediate past governor in the Gingrich-ian “not ready for the retirement home” category.

Tom Price: One of Georgia’s most visible congressmen, and the former head of the House’s Republican Study Committee, Price has been a much-discussed potential candidate. He might decide to keep trying to rise through the ranks in the House — particularly if Speaker John Boehner shows vulnerability — or he might try to switch chambers. One caveat: Whereas Deal might remain neutral about the other candidates in the race, the word is that a Price candidacy would spur him to choose sides — against Price, who infamously switched his allegiance to Handel in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary. Update at 1:25 p.m.: A Price spokesperson says he is “speaking with a number of folks across the state of Georgia and listening to their observations and advice.”

Austin Scott: The congressman from Georgia’s 8th District is the only South Georgian on the list, and he’s a very strong possibility to run now that Chambliss is out of the race.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland would be an instantly serious candidate if he were to get into the race, but he’s given no indication in the past he’s interested. Update at 1:25 p.m.: In a statement, Westmoreland says he is considering running. So I’m giving him his own spot on this list.

Wild cards: And there may well be a non-politico who surprises everyone by choosing this as his/her moment to get into politics (no, I don’t have anyone in mind).

How about on the Democratic side? There already was a feeling among Georgia political observers that Georgia’s severely weakened Democrats would choose to concentrate their resources on one statewide race, and that this would be it. Now that it’s an open seat, I think that’s even more likely.

For now, the Democrats’ list begins and ends with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. He was one of President Obama’s most prominent surrogates during last year’s election, and there’s a lot of talk here that the White House really wants Reed to run for this seat. That talk is bound to soar now that it’s an open seat. Reed is up for re-election this fall and isn’t expected to draw any opponents who are serious threats to him. If he wants to run, other Democrats almost certainly would stay out of the race, and he wouldn’t have to leave his current job to do so. A win would be a huge step up for him, earlier than most expected (Georgia’s demographic trends regarding white and minority voters mirror but lag behind those nationally). If he lost, he’d still be Atlanta’s mayor, working famously well with Deal and GOP state legislators, and would have even more name ID statewide for a 2018 run.

Update at 12:35 p.m.: In a statement, Reed said today is not about politics but honoring Chambliss for his service.

In the event he doesn’t run, the Democrats’ chances of winning this seat drop sharply. Possible candidates might be state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, U.S. Rep. John Barrow, state Sen. Jason Carter (President Carter’s grandson) and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. Only Barrow hails from anywhere outside Atlanta.

Update at 12:35 p.m.: Former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones says to “stay tuned” about his plans in 2014.

Oh, and here’s a name completely out of left field, just for fun: How about former state Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears? I have no idea if she’d ever entertain the thought, but she might turn out to be a very strong candidate.

What say y’all?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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156 comments Add your comment

getalife

January 25th, 2013
11:37 am

Congrats on the term limit for saxby.

I encourage retirement for all loyal bushies that destroyed our country.

Bring back Max.

A

January 25th, 2013
11:40 am

What about Max Cleland? I agree with @getalife…we need him now more than ever.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 25th, 2013
11:44 am

It’s just a waste of time to discuss the dummycrat candidates; too fringe, too whacked out.

Politico

January 25th, 2013
11:44 am

This seat will surely stay in the Republican column.

alittlecommosense

January 25th, 2013
11:44 am

If Broun runs, I would have to hold my nose and vote D. He’s a laughingstock.

getalife

January 25th, 2013
11:45 am

A,

Max is a good man and a fighter for our troops.

Also, Mayor Reed has been impressive taking on the gop but Max has the experience.

Kyle,

“UK heads for unprecedented ‘triple dip’ recession…”

Your austerity argument is a sure loser but will not rub it in.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 25th, 2013
11:47 am

Chip Rogers. Bank on it.

getalife

January 25th, 2013
11:49 am

jindal called the gop the party of stupid and said they need to change everything.

I can’t wait to see the changes because cons hate change but they will blindly follow them .

I think you should ignore them and stay the course.

Just cheat like you did to keep the house.

Aquagirl

January 25th, 2013
11:51 am

Chip Rogers. Bank on it.

You might want to think twice about banking anywhere Chip Rogers does.

Centrist

January 25th, 2013
11:52 am

Chambliss was going to have a very hard time getting re-elected even as an incumbent. To be polite, he has not been on top of his game for some time. His meandering work on the Gang of Six put him in the spotlight and exposed his fading intellect and speaking ability.

My bet is that Tom Price will be his replacement, with Paul Broun his closest contender. Karen Handle has no chance – not a college graduate and single issue candidate. Gingrich is washed up. Contenders for Governor (Casey Cagle/Brian Kemp/Sam Olens) to replace Deal might jump in for some more name recognition, but quickly bow out and endorse Price/Broun to get return endorsement favors. The rest of the list above is not worth commenting on – no chance.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 25th, 2013
11:56 am

Maybe the libs could bus in a million more illegal aliens and win this one!

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 25th, 2013
11:58 am

Glad to see a lib with a sense of humor–quite unexpected and refreshing!

getalife

January 25th, 2013
11:59 am

Which lobbying group hired saxby?

That industry they built for themselves is blatant corruption that pays very well so all they have to do is work with our President to make more money in lobbying.

Don't Tread

January 25th, 2013
12:02 pm

I’d be for anyone who actually votes to uphold the Constitution as required by their oath of office (not that they pay any attention to that :roll: ). Giving the government authorization to arrest US citizens on US soil and detain them indefinitely, or just send someone to kill them outright, somehow just doesn’t seem Constitutional to me…yet Saxby voted for it.

Hillbilly D

January 25th, 2013
12:02 pm

I wouldn’t mind seeing Tom Graves run, so I could vote against him.

John Barrow would be an interesting candidate. He’d probably never win the primary but he’d have the best chance of winning for his team, statewide, in my opinion.

Anyway, a lot can happen in 2 years and none of this really means anything, other than it’s a way to pass the time on bad weather day.

Intown

January 25th, 2013
12:02 pm

This seems like a pretty good list Kyle. On the Republican side, what about Ross Tolleson? On the Democrat side, this is going to be real gut-check / defining moment for Kasim. Will he risk all that political capital he’s built up for a shot at a US Senate seat? I agree the demographics still do not favor a statewide win by a Dem. He’s got to be prepared to lose properly. If he bows out due to timing, it would be really interesting to see Stacey Abrams raise her profile with a run. Barrow would be just another blue dog Dem subject to being turned into a Repub.

Bruno

January 25th, 2013
12:03 pm

Kyle–Kudos for a sincere, well-written article. A nice contrast to to the immature, inflammatory BS put out by Jay Bookman on a daily basis. Your blog numbers may be a little lower here, but just wanted you to know that you are appreciated!!

Politico

January 25th, 2013
12:04 pm

getlife

If he does go the lobbyist route, maybe something in agriculture. He hasn’t seen too many farm subsidies that he didn’t like.

Aquagirl

January 25th, 2013
12:05 pm

Glad to see a lib with a sense of humor

Thank you for the complement, but it’s not that I have a fantastic sense of humor. It’s more that with Chip Rogers 99% of random sentences are a punchline.

getalife

January 25th, 2013
12:05 pm

Bruno,

Jay wrote about this issue too.

getalife

January 25th, 2013
12:07 pm

“maybe something in agriculture”

Sounds like a good job.

Lets see how long it takes for a lobbying group to hire him.

I give it a week before it is announced.

Stephenson Billings

January 25th, 2013
12:08 pm

Austerity is Not to Blame For the UK’s Disappointing Growth Forecasts

http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/08/austerity-is-not-to-blame-for-the-uks-di

Henne

January 25th, 2013
12:08 pm

I’m for the only really common sense conservative I know of in Georgia … Kyle Wingfield.

getalife

January 25th, 2013
12:09 pm

“Austerity is Not to Blame For the UK’s Disappointing Growth Forecasts”

Would you ever admit it?

Nope.

Bruno

January 25th, 2013
12:10 pm

I’d be for anyone who actually votes to uphold the Constitution as required by their oath of office (not that they pay any attention to that :roll: ). Giving the government authorization to arrest US citizens on US soil and detain them indefinitely, or just send someone to kill them outright, somehow just doesn’t seem Constitutional to me…yet Saxby voted for it.

Don’t Tread–I’m with you 100% on your post. I can’t claim to know the minds of our elected officials, but it disturbs me greatly that none of them seem committed to solving our financial woes while simultaneously trampling on the rights of the citizens via illegal surveillance and detention. Sadly, in spite of all the lip service the Dems made about opposing the Patriot Act, they turned around and doubled-down on it the minute they had power.

I can only wonder who is on the side of the citizens at this point.

Deb A

January 25th, 2013
12:11 pm

If you seriously think that Barrow couldn’t win if up against Broun, then you really do need another career. He is a centrist, he has shown he can pull GOP votes, he’s white (which still makes a big difference in a statewide race), he won’t be viewed as “one of those big city folks” by the rest of the state. Against someone like Chambliss, he couldn’t win. Against a wack-a-do like Broun (or even Price or Gingrey), he could pull it off.

getalife

January 25th, 2013
12:13 pm

Bruno,

They tossed the kitchen sink at the economy and all they have left is Qe4.

You have red States forcing Americans to pee in a cup and give it to government so your freedom argument is bs.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

January 25th, 2013
12:13 pm

If Reed runs, expect his ability to work “famously well” with the GOP to take a sudden turn for the worse… at Atlanta’s short-term expense.

Cagle won’t run for the same (hidden-from-view) reason he bowed out of the Governor’s race last time.

Cain won’t run because it would be a pay cut and a cut in stature. And his wife would eventually kill him when he was caught with his pants around his ankles.

I figure it’s going to come down to Broun vs. Price in a battle for who can be most stupid for the cameras.

Democrats need new leadership here. The state is less red than their organizational mess would have anyone believe.

Grasshopper

January 25th, 2013
12:15 pm

Cynthia McKinney in 2014!

The true voice of Democrats today!

Politico

January 25th, 2013
12:17 pm

Broun’s 1st commercial could have him being depicted riding a T Rex down 316 from Athens heading toward Atlanta……..

It will go well with his earth is 6000 years old theme.

IToldYouSo

January 25th, 2013
12:18 pm

People were saying back in 2002 that Saxby was really like this. But nooooo. We had to all line up like good little card carrying Republicans and do what Karl Rove wanted us to do and put rubber stamp Saxby in office. He ran a good candidate in Irvin out in the Primary and made Max look like he was second in command of al Qaeda. Go back to South GA filing farm loan paperwork Saxby. Good riddance.

Thomas Heyward Jr

January 25th, 2013
12:20 pm

Hey Chambliss———–
.
With your TARP, Patriot Act, and NDAA of 2012 votes………..you may quit, but just don’t leave town.
In the future, the People might have questions.

Bruno

January 25th, 2013
12:28 pm

Bruno,

Jay wrote about this issue too.

I know, get, which is what led to my comment. While Kyle offered us a thoughtful article previewing potential candidates, Bookman went for the gutter once again with his “clever” headline about nailing RINO hides to the wall. Obviously his base eats it up, but IMO he and other “journalists” like him accomplish nothing other than keeping the pot stirred up.

FranInAtlanta

January 25th, 2013
12:28 pm

Would have supported Chambliss against anyone. Am scared to death Republicans will nominate someone who makes Akin/Mourdock look good and will lose.

Centrist

January 25th, 2013
12:30 pm

Liberals posting here hoping (maybe even thinking?) that a Democrat has a chance at winning state wide office in the next half decade is not rational.

Those attacking Chip Rogers ignore his personal and political appeal. He is young, good looking, polite, intelligent, a family man, and a terrific speaker. That is not to say his politics and personal history is anathema to some (mostly liberal posters here). We have not heard the last of him on the political scene, but probably not a U.S. Senatorial candidate this decade.

Just Saying..

January 25th, 2013
12:30 pm

Of course Saxby has to go.

He cares more about the country than his party.

In Georgia, that’s treason…

indigo

January 25th, 2013
12:31 pm

Maybe there will be a litmus test for the new candidate.

Maybe he/she will have to swear they think evolution and science are “from the pit of hell”

southpaw

January 25th, 2013
12:31 pm

Politico –
You must not have gotten the memo. He traded dinosaurs, from a tyrannosaurus to a thesauras ;-)

southpaw

January 25th, 2013
12:32 pm

thesaurus, that is

Bruno

January 25th, 2013
12:32 pm

They tossed the kitchen sink at the economy and all they have left is Qe4.

I understand, getalife, but if you recall, I’m one of those stick-in-the-mud conservatives who doesn’t believe it is a legitimate function of government to micromanage the economy.

You have red States forcing Americans to pee in a cup and give it to government so your freedom argument is bs.

Sorry, but I’m not in charge of any of those Red States and don’t support any programs like that.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

January 25th, 2013
12:33 pm

Won’t miss Saxby one bit.

That being said, I might vote for Karen Handle if she were to run.

My first vote would be for Herman Cain (I already cast a vote for him back in 2004 when he first ran for the seat), but I suspect his new gig on WSB will not only keep him from doing so, but probably pays a heck of a lot more as well.

No one else on the list I would even make an effort to vote for. On either side.

YourPoliticalAnimal

January 25th, 2013
12:35 pm

My research tells me that African Americans don’t fare well in senatorial campaigns because unlike congressional campaigns, senatorial campaigns are more at large and depend more on the good will of white voters statewide…but a Kasim Reed run would indeed be interesting, especially if the White House puts its full weight behind such a candidacy…Although Obama lost Georgia, he showed much more strongly than in 2008, so his coattails might indeed be much stronger here…but the African American, Latino, white, progressive i.e., gay, votes nearly Atlanta would have to be significant to offset the anti-Obama feelings in south and north Georgia…particularly with the gun control sentiments that are currently causing so many partisan disagreements…I also think that former labor commissioner Michael Thurmond, who had a strong showing in a recent senate run, might fare well, either as a candidate or as a chief surrogate for Reed…I would run but my Kenyan birth keeps me from doing so (lol)…

Politico

January 25th, 2013
12:35 pm

southpaw

Thanks for the update on Broun, but it would make for a funny commercial.

midtownguy

January 25th, 2013
12:40 pm

The Republican candidate will win. I fully expect the winner to be a Creationism Tea Party type that will bring more embarrassment and ridicule to the State of Georgia than even Cynthia McKinney managed.

getalife

January 25th, 2013
12:41 pm

I predicted his retirement after he dared to work with our President.

I hope Kyle reports when he accepts his lobbying job.

Bruno,

They are out of options on the economy so that should make you happy.

2 % growth does not make me happy but I know they tried everything they could.

Aquagirl

January 25th, 2013
12:41 pm

That is not to say his politics and personal history is anathema to some (mostly liberal posters here).

I’ve said some unkind things about conservatives, but I’d never stoop so low as to say they love deadbeats. You, sir, have gone too far.

As for the “young, good looking, polite” stuff I’m also pretty sure most Republicans are more interested in his potential as Senator, not a date for the prom.

Bruno

January 25th, 2013
12:42 pm

Sorry that I can’t add any intelligent commentary about any of the potential candidates above. My current level of cynicism prevents me from caring much about it right now.

On an unrelated note, if any of you get a chance to see it, Showtime is running a documentary about Paul Williams, the famous songwriter/actor from the 1970s. Briefly, Paul fell out of the public eye for about 15 years while he sobered up from heavy drinking/drug use. Now he’s out doing shows again, but obviously at a much smaller scale. The most poignant moment of the movie came when the filmmaker commented that he had so much in his earlier days, but didn’t seem happy and now that he has less, he seems happier. Paul quickly corrected him by saying, “I have so much more now.”

In case any of you young whippersnappers are unfamiliar with Paul Williams, he wrote numerous hit songs for folks like the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand and Three Dog Night among others. Here’s one of my absolute favorites by TDN:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ1tF6LgB40

Hillbilly D

January 25th, 2013
12:43 pm

Maybe there will be a litmus test for the new candidate.

As both parties are litmus test parties, that’s a given.

Rush

January 25th, 2013
12:45 pm

Watergirl made a funny remark….have to agree with her and the punch line on Rogers…..like shooting fish in a barrel with punch lines for Chippy.

Bruno

January 25th, 2013
12:47 pm

Am I the only one corny enough here to still get goosebumps at the opening notes of this song??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sFej5pnVXI