U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss: Frustration with Washington drove him out

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the leader of a bipartisan effort to address the federal deficit, this morning pointed to gridlock in Washington for his decision not to seek a third term in 2014.

A statement just released by his office includes this:

“I have no doubt that had I decided to be a candidate, I would have won re-election. In these difficult political times, I am fortunate to have actually broadened my support around the state and the nation due to the stances I have taken.

“Instead, this is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health. The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon. For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy.”

In a conference call with supporters that he just completed, Chambliss didn’t detail the reasons for his departure, but reviewed a career that included authorship of four farm bills and 18 defense authorization bills, during two terms in the Senate and several years in the U.S. House.

“I’m going to have a life after this,” Chambliss said. “Sitting on a back porch drinking whisky with some of y’all is exciting to think about.”

Gov. Nathan Deal said that U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss called him this morning to inform him of his decision. “I told him to make sure he served out his full term because I didn’t want to appoint someone,” Deal told my AJC colleague Greg Bluestein. The governor assured Chambliss would do so.

Chambliss’ announcement will immediately set off an avalanche of Republican candidates who will seek to replace him.

At least two GOP House members from Georgia, Paul Broun of Athens and Tom Price of Roswell, have been contemplating primary challenges to Chambliss, who has been criticized for leading the bipartisan “Gang of Six” effort to broker a deal to address a $16 trillion federal deficit.

Chambliss and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., are scheduled to speak Monday on coming fiscal negotiations during a joint appearance at the University of Georgia.

Both Chambliss and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson had voted this month for the Senate-negotiated deal that avoided the “fiscal cliff” imposed by a 2011 fight over the federal debt ceiling. All Republican House members from Georgia voted against it.

A decision from Price is expected sooner rather than later. More members of Congress – including Phil Gingrey of Roswell and Tom Graves of Ranger – are certain to consider the race now that it lacks an incumbent. In the state Capitol, one name has already popped up — that of state Sen. Ross Tolleson, a Republican who hails from former U.S. senator Sam Nunn’s home town of Perry.

Talk radio host Herman Cain, a GOP candidate for president who began his political career in Georgia with a 2004 run for the U.S. Senate, quickly removed himself from consideration this morning. But don’t rule out former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

Chambliss’ withdrawal could also awaken Georgia Democrats from the torpor they’ve been in since losing the governor’s office in 2002. This statement comes from Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

“Georgia will now offer Democrats one of our best pick-up opportunities of the cycle. There are already several reports of the potential for a divisive primary that will push Republicans to the extreme right. Regardless, there’s no question that the demographics of the state have changed and Democrats are gaining strength. This will be a top priority.”

U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Augusta has said he wasn’t interested in challenging Chambliss. Whether or not that disinterest applies to an open seat may be another matter. State Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, may be another name to add to the mix.

Chambliss had offered a hint that he was wavering earlier this month. From a quote in a column written by my AJC colleague Kyle Wingfield, who had asked him if the curdled atmosphere in Washington made him think twice about a third term:

“This is an eight-year decision for me. It’s two years [campaigning] plus six years” in office, he said. “And if I thought the next eight years were going to be filled with contentious debates and the wrong way to govern that we have just gone through in the last two months, it would have a significant impact on my decision. But yeah, right now my plans are to run.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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346 comments Add your comment

[...] by Charlie · 0 comments TweetBreaking, courtesy of the AJC’s Jim Galloway: [...]

kreedham

January 25th, 2013
9:53 am

i’m not a fan of Saxby but if we elect Broun, Gingrey or Price then Georgia will likely get fewer federal dollars for roads, etc.

Doug

January 25th, 2013
9:53 am

The crazies are already drooling.

Doug

January 25th, 2013
9:54 am

Kasim Reed for Senate!

Pompano

January 25th, 2013
9:55 am

This is scary – bet Sell-out Saxby does some damage as a lame-duck.

rufus

January 25th, 2013
9:58 am

And I thought the stupid season had just ended! Bring out the clowns; led by the clown chief Tom Price! Truly a Forrest Gump moment in the making!

Reverend Father Charlie

January 25th, 2013
10:00 am

Best news I’ve heard since Obama won!

nodrog

January 25th, 2013
10:01 am

He’s got to have a great job waiting for him (perhaps a lobbyist) to give up his Senate Seat. Can’t wait to hear ” the rest of the story”

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 25th, 2013
10:02 am

Which ever one the libs hate the most is the one I’m for.

julia

January 25th, 2013
10:03 am

Probably got himself a cushy lobbying job all lined up. after the smear campaign he did on Max Cleland, all i can say is good riddance to bad rubbish. let another one out of the clown car have his turn now.

K-Ster

January 25th, 2013
10:03 am

NO!!!!!!!!! I love Saxby’s chicken dinners!

hjhkjh

January 25th, 2013
10:05 am

Just what we need, more intolerance for bipartanship.

Voter

January 25th, 2013
10:07 am

1 down, 49 more to go. Then to the House. All need to be out and get some new blood in there. Set term limits, so they don’t have to die first to be removed.

NotME

January 25th, 2013
10:08 am

Funny, he started doing the right thing when he knew he was not going to run again.

Matt

January 25th, 2013
10:08 am

When members of the GOP want to push out people like Saxby Chambliss for not being conservative enough, our party continues the path of marginalizing itself into the ideological corner of cluless.

No Longer Republican

January 25th, 2013
10:09 am

Ugh…Not the biggest Saxby fan, but the thought of Graves, Broun, Gingrey or Price as our senator is hard to stomach. Anybody think Karen Handel will run? Don’t like her either but she would be better than one of those four clown congressmen.

K-Ster

January 25th, 2013
10:09 am

Voter: There are more than 50 Senators… FYI.

Etw

January 25th, 2013
10:10 am

Great news! Its just somebody else I don’t have to vote for. Now all I have to worry about is how he is going to vote for the next two years. I hope we get somebody who is really going to be conservative!

Shar

January 25th, 2013
10:11 am

Here’s hoping it’s Paul Broun. It would get him out of the House and make a moderate conservative Democrat an attractive option for those who can’t bring themselves to vote for a nut.

willdave

January 25th, 2013
10:13 am

Anyone with a cool name like “Saxby” can’t be all bad. I haven’t always agreed with his positions, but I do respect the man.

DannyX

January 25th, 2013
10:13 am

“1 down, 49 more to go.”

This is your brain high on Republican.

[...] Galloway at the AJC reported earlier today that Senator Saxby Chambliss told his senior staff this morning he [...]

Thank God!

January 25th, 2013
10:15 am

Foghorn Leghorn won’t be missed by any conservative.

Double Down on craziness

January 25th, 2013
10:15 am

It is a sad day when conservative Saxby Chambliss is deemed to liberal for voting for what is in the best interest of the country he was elected to serve. Let’s serve up an even dumber, crazier person for the “necks” who love them some guns

WOW

January 25th, 2013
10:16 am

He’s got to have a great job waiting for him (perhaps a lobbyist) to give up his Senate Seat. Can’t wait to hear ” the rest of the story”

Read the comments on this blog and Wingfield’s and you will easily see why. He’s a pretty conservative guy, but closer to the mainstream and in today’s Republican Party that’s just not good enough anymore.

Who Cares?

January 25th, 2013
10:16 am

This ———–> “Which ever one the libs hate the most is the one I’m for.”!

JDW

January 25th, 2013
10:16 am

Can’t say I am sorry to see Saxby go. His campaign against Cleland was likely the lowest campaign ever run in this state and to top it off he never actually did anything once elected. Now the Wingnuts…Graves, Broun, Gingrey, Price etc…will line up. Depending on who the Democrats run, we may find out if demographics in 2014 have changed enough for Georgia to follow in the footsteps of Indiana and Missouri.

Anton Chigurh

January 25th, 2013
10:16 am

“criticized for participating in a bipartisan effort to broker a deal to address a $16 trillion federal deficit”
That’s all you need to know to not support Price and Broun.

Just Saying..

January 25th, 2013
10:16 am

Paul Broun for Senator.

That should bring Georgia some national press…

Brian30101

January 25th, 2013
10:17 am

Newt Newt Newt!!!!

joe

January 25th, 2013
10:17 am

Matt – Couldnt have said it better myself.

HCCynic

January 25th, 2013
10:17 am

Kasim Reed? Oh HELLNO!

The State of Georgia is a wide and diverse entity that is far greater than that cesspool that is Atlanta. We the citizens of this state deserve better than to be represented by any individual with ties to Atlanta.

In that the Senate seate is a state wide office, one can only hope that there is a suitable candidate that understands self reliance, fiscal conservatisim, and personal responsibility, to be found in the regions outside of Atlanta.

Gerald Haywood

January 25th, 2013
10:18 am

He would need to run as a democrat if he did run in 2014. He has become more and more liberal each year.

Report: Saxby Chambliss retiring in 2014

January 25th, 2013
10:18 am

[...] Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), one of the Republicans most vulnerable to a conservative primary challenge, will retire in 2014, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. [...]

[...] Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) will retire at the end of his Senate term, according to a report from the Atlanta [...]

Mmmm Hmmm

January 25th, 2013
10:19 am

I didn’t realize he was still in office…

Charlene Mathis

January 25th, 2013
10:19 am

I think Jim Marshall would be a great Senator if we can’t have Zell Miller again.

Glad to hear it.......

January 25th, 2013
10:20 am

I am absolutely overjoyed to hear it – he was worthless anyway.

Oxwinkle

January 25th, 2013
10:20 am

Senator Clark Howard…..a great addition for the GOP in the Senate!

Bhorsoft

January 25th, 2013
10:21 am

Not a fan of Saxby since the Cleland smear campaign, but he’s less of a wingnut than the current Republican alternatives. I’d love to see Kasim Reed get the job, but him winning has as much hope as the GA Legislature passing strict gun control, medical marijuana, or strong ethics laws. I will sleep less easy tonight…

Eleanor Earley

January 25th, 2013
10:21 am

Get someone besides the right wing nuts listed above and Handel to run. Come on Dems get a strong candidate who will work on behalf of us seniors that have already been shoved over the cliff.

Tech Troll 13

January 25th, 2013
10:24 am

I don’t think he could have won the primary. I have not been a fan for years.

What good is being bipartisan when the other side is going the wrong direction?

Old Hippie

January 25th, 2013
10:24 am

Let the GOP clown factory fight this out and then maybe a moderate Dem can beat the GOP winner/surviver. Shirley Franklin, Cathy Cox where are you?

paco

January 25th, 2013
10:24 am

Maybe Roy Barnes

Maxwell Smart

January 25th, 2013
10:25 am

CLARK HOWARD for SENATE. I like it.

SBinF

January 25th, 2013
10:26 am

Like rats off a sinking ship.

What bat poop crazy right wing nutjob will the fundamentalists put up?

Sadly, whomever it is will easily sail into the Senate.

Hillary, a lie is a lie

January 25th, 2013
10:26 am

I believe Newt calls Virginia home now.

CC

January 25th, 2013
10:28 am

I am not and never was a Chambliss fan, but I’d vote for him over a dim-witted dimocrat every time. Chambliss was far too much of a “go along to get along” kind of politician. Whoever succeeds Chambliss (and you can bet the farm that it WILL be a Republican) should be a true conservative and committed to doing battle with the liberals/progressives/dimocrats (take your pick as to which word best describes your political affiliation) who are hell-bent on morphing America into a third-world socialist nation.

Maybe you libs would like to drag out Roy Barnes for another drubbing?

Matt321

January 25th, 2013
10:29 am

Alright! Demographics being what they are, there probably shouldn’t be a Democratic Senator for about another decade, but if the Republicans want to put up a right wing extremist that has no connection to reality or the lives of Georgians, I say, bring it on! Hopefully Saxby’s retirement will be the gift that keeps on giving.

K-Ster

January 25th, 2013
10:30 am

How about Herman Cain? Neal Bortz? (apologies if I misspelled a name, I don’t feel like Googleing)