State of the Georgia Senate race
It’s been four weeks since Georgia’s senior senator, Saxby Chambliss, announced he would not run for re-election next year. That news triggered an avalanche of speculation about who would run for the seat, with the field expected to get very crowded very quickly. That hasn’t happened. No one has entered the race or even admitted to giving it serious consideration on the Democratic side, and the GOP field has been developing only slowly:
- Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens, was the first to file his paperwork to run and has been running online ads for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday, he touted the endorsement of TheTeaParty.net, a Washington, D.C.-based outfit that bills itself as the nation’s largest tea-party group.
- Last week, Congressman Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, said he was running for Senate while speaking to the Forsyth County GOP. The very fact Kingston was speaking to a Republican group in a county a couple of hundred miles from his district tells you about all you need to know. A person familiar with Kingston’s thinking told me the congressman wants to do some more fund-raising before making his candidacy official. In December, Kingston’s campaign committee reported having just under $1 million in cash on hand. That’s much more than the $156,000 Broun reported, but it’s not as much as some of the other potential candidates.
- Congressman Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, has been the subject of numerous reports this week that he will enter the race. The Washington Post has a story citing two unnamed ones saying Gingrey is telling people he is in the race. The Hill newspaper earlier cited GOP strategist Tom Perdue saying Gingrey was calling people to tell them he’s in. But Gingrey emailed me last night to say it is only true that he is “very interested in [the Senate race] and strongly considering it. However, at this point I am still undecided.” Based on my own conversations with people close to Gingrey, I will be surprised if he does not run.
- Congressman Tom Price, R-Roswell, whom many thought would be one of the first candidates out of the gate, has instead punted on making a decision until May. While he would probably be the front-runner if he were to enter the race, a person familiar with his thinking told me Price currently is only 50/50 as to whether he will run. One concern he apparently doesn’t have is adverse intervention by Gov. Nathan Deal. Price and governor have had chilly relations ever since Price retracted his endorsement of Deal in the 2010 gubernatorial election and instead backed Karen Handel. But I am told the governor intends to be completely neutral in the Senate race, not least because he will be focused on his own re-election next year. If Price does not run, Handel — who comes from the same North Fulton base — would be much more likely to enter the Senate race.
That’s where things stand now, at least as far as I’ve been able to track them down.
– By Kyle Wingfield
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