Neither the transcript nor the video is available as I write this, but on NBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on Sunday, Chuck Todd noted one of the many implications of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ decision not to run for a third term.
One of Chambliss’ best friends in Washington, Todd noted, is House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. If Chambliss is frustrated enough to abandon Washington, Boehner may be, too.
There’s another leg to that stool. Chambliss’ other BFF in Washington is U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. The two have been together since their halcyon days at the University of Georgia in Athens. (Where Chambliss will appear today with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.)
Isakson has already declared himself a certainty to run for re-election in 2016. “Absolutely,” said one aide last night. But the man who will soon become Georgia’s senior senator has also just been named to the Senate Finance Committee, which will be at the center of any further negotiations over federal debt, spending and revenue increases. Delicate times are ahead.
When thinking about a 2014 run for Chambliss’ seat, many potential candidates – Democrat as well as Republican – will have to at least consider the possibility that Isakson might follow Chambliss into retirement two years later.
Below is a quick breakdown of the several names in the mix for 2014.
Remember that many candidates are floating their names quickly – not just for the attention, but to freeze in place a short list of consultants and core check-writers while the candidate assesses his or her chances. And for those of you don’t consider some of these names below capable of winning statewide, remember that – at least on the Republican side – the object is merely to get into a runoff.
Consider the 1972 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, which featured seven candidates. State Rep. Sam Nunn of Perry, with 23 percent of the vote, worked his way into a runoff against incumbent David Gambrell – and won. Now, to the list:
– U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell: All but certain to run, though he’s unlikely to have the support of Gov. Nathan Deal. Price supported Karen Handel in the 2010 race for governor, and these things matter. But Price is an excellent and driven campaigner, and has plenty of cash. Handel is said to be looking at the Senate race as well, but she’s more likely to run for Price’ empty seat. As is state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, and perhaps former House speaker Mark Burkhalter.
— U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens: Strangely enough, an open seat makes it less likely that the Athens congressman will enter the contest. We’re picking up the first reports that the National Republican Senate Committee would intervene – perhaps its first such action in a post-Todd Akin world — in Georgia’s race in order to make sure that Broun, who recently denounced evolution as a lie “straight from the pit of hell,” doesn’t walk away with the 2014 Republican primary.
– U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta: He’s let it be known that he’s “seriously” considering the Senate race, but he first needs to measure the impact of a very bad news day earlier this month in which he 1) said he was open to capacity limits on magazines for semi-automatic weapons, and 2) declared that Akin was “partly right” about his 2012 remarks about “legitimate rape.” In a GOP primary, his position on gun clips may matter more. Gingrey, 70, would also be the senior candidate in the field – a fact that contributors might think relevant.
– U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger: He’s relatively new to Congress, but don’t count him out. Graves is telegenic, a tea party favorite, would have immediate support from Club for Growth and other bundlers. Graves also has developed a close relationship with Chambliss during his short service in the House. When Chambliss was still in the hunt, Graves’ name was the one you never heard tossed about as a potential opponent.
– U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah: He’s immediately out of pocket, but is actively looking at the contest. Even so, Kingston might be a couple election cycles too late, given that the weight of Republican voters has moved north of I-20. Todd Rehm at Georgia Pundit spotted this Friday post from former state Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah on Twitter:
Just agreed to handle @JackKingston4GA’s exploratory effort while he is in Israel/India. Retweet if you want him to run. He would be great!
If Kingston does roll the dice, look for Johnson, a lifetime ally of the Savannah congressman, to make a bid for Kingston’s House seat.
– Former Gov. Sonny Perdue: In any race for the U.S. Senate, primacy goes to those with experience in federal elections, where the contribution limits are smaller and a heftier Rolodex (look it up, kids) is required. Members of Congress, in other words. But don’t count Perdue out. He’s in a good place, personally and businesswise, and his old political team just held a reunion on Friday. Moreover, both Perdue and former aide Nick Ayers would be able to tap into financial alliances built during their days with the Republican Governors Association.
– Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle: This one may sound like a surprise, but we’re told that Cagle is dead serious. Though he’s spent the last two years in limbo, courtesy of that now-tamped-down Senate uprising, the lieutenant governor has used that spare time to work the Rotary and Kiwanis circuit. Again, note that the weight of the Georgia GOP is in the north, and Cagle is from Hall County.
– House Speaker David Ralston: He is said to be considering the contest. And if we believed that a U.S. senator were more powerful than a state House speaker, he might be able to persuade us that he’s serious.
– Stan Wise of the Public Service Commission: Not much to go on, but we understand he was in the field with a private poll this weekend.
Now for the Democrats. They’re likely to give Nathan Deal a pass, for which the governor should immediately send Chambliss a thank-you note. Chambliss’ timely withdrawal, and with it the possibility of hard-right gaffes like those that occurred last year in Missouri and Indiana, make it essential that Democrats field a U.S. Senate candidate worth voting for in November 2014. To wit:
– U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta: He’ll be under the most pressure from Democrats in Washington, who will point out that Barack Obama won’t be on the ticket to juice the turnout in a solidly Republican district. And remember that assessment that coastal candidates can’t do well statewide? Remember that Barrow had his roots in Athens, before Republicans re-districted him. Twice.
– Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: He was certainly uninterested in challenging Chambliss, but hasn’t immediately dismissed a 2014 run for the open seat. However, such a move would almost certainly require Reed to abandon this year’s re-election bid for mayor, which is already in full swing — with substantial support from Republicans. With at least the possibility that Isakson might not be on the 2016 ballot, while Hillary Clinton may well be, Reed may decide that patience is the better part of valor.
– State Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta: Talented, thoughtful, and middle-of-the road. He’s an attorney with U.S. Army experience in Iraq, and has been touted as a future face of a rejuvenated Democratic party. Even if he misses, a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate could set him up for 2016.
– State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur: Already one of the more talented Democrats in his chamber, a statewide run is certainly in his future. But like Reed and Holcomb, Jimmy Carter’s grandson is young – 37 – and has time to wait. Although, if memory serves, Sam Nunn was only 35 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
– Vernon Jones: Yes, the former DeKalb County CEO says he’s thinking about it.
There are certainly more names to name, and this list could go on and on and on. If you’re a friend to any I’ve left out, add the name below – but also tell me why he or she should be considered a possibility.
Cobb County’s Neil Warren to the list of Georgia sheriffs who have volunteered to protect you from any federal gun grab. From an op-ed in the Marietta Daily Journal this weekend:
For my part, I intend to fully exercise the power and authority vested in me by my oath of office as Sheriff of Cobb County. It is my firm commitment to immediately challenge and seek injunctive relief from any statute or executive action which violates the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the citizens of Cobb County.
One reason why men stumble into talk about “legitimate rape,” proffered by Maggie Lee and the Macon Telegraph:
Women make up about 23 percent of Georgia’s state Legislature and just 8 percent of committee chairs, the powerful gatekeepers who can single-handedly stop legislation. Both figures put Georgia behind other states.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider