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Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) will not seek re-election in 2014

January 25th, 2013

CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash

Washington (CNN) - Saxby Chambliss, the Republican senator from Georgia, said Friday that the "legislative gridlock and partisan posturing" had grown so impenetrable in Washington that he would not seek re-election in 2014,

"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," Chambliss wrote in a statement announcing his retirement. He pointed to partisan haggling over raising the debt ceiling in 2011, and more recently to the bickering that transpired over a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Those incidents "showed Congress at its worst," Chambliss argued, adding his forecast for future dealings between the White House and Congress was bleak.

"I don't see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon," he wrote. "For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy."

A conservative voice in the upper chamber since 2002, Chambliss recently drew the ire of some activists to his right who took issue with his support for bipartisan compromise. He was a member of the "Gang of Six," which tried in 2011 to strike a bipartisan deal on reducing the federal debt.

Most recently, Chambliss broke with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist by conceding some tax increases are necessary to solve the nation's debt problems, a move that sparked some Republicans to emerge as potential primary challengers in the 2014 election.

Chambliss said Friday those rumblings had nothing to do with his retirement.

"Lest anyone think this decision is about a primary challenge, I have no doubt that had I decided to be a candidate, I would have won re-election," he wrote.

Before becoming a senator, Chambliss served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and before that practiced business and agricultural law in Georgia.

His last election, in 2008, was an unexpectedly close race with Democrat Jim Martin, who was boosted by high turnout among African-Americans also voting for Barack Obama in that year's presidential election. The race went to a runoff, which drew attention and money from national Democrats and Republicans. Chambliss won 57%-43%.

Republicans appear poised to scramble for Chambliss' seat - several potential candidates expressed interest in challenging Chambliss before Friday's retirement news, including two U.S. congressmen from Georgia, Tom Price and Paul Broun. Two additional Georgia representatives, Tom Graves and Phil Gingrey, could also run for Senate.

A spokesman for Price said Friday the congressman "is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received. He is speaking with a number of folks across the state of Georgia and listening to their observations and advice. He'll continue to listen and make a decision and announcement at the appropriate time."

Erick Erickson, the editor of RedState.com and a CNN contributor, expressed interest in Chambliss' seat last year before deciding against a run. Former pizza executive and presidential candidate Herman Cain has also been mentioned as a potential contender for Chambliss' seat, though he denied he was interested in the spot on his radio show Friday.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented Georgia in the U.S. House, also said Friday he wasn't interested in running for Chambliss' seat.

Democrats said Friday that Chambliss' retirement offers "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," Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "Regardless, there's no question that the demographics of the state have changed and Democrats are gaining strength. This will be a top priority."

Democrats currently hold a 54-45 majority in the Senate.

by Dana Bashreply 1101/27/2013

Best political comeback I ever heard. After Chambliss ran a foul attack ad against Max Cleland, Cleland said: "Saxby Chambliss is like a mackeral in the moonlight. He can stink and shine at the same time."

by Dana Bashreply 101/26/2013

Chambliss is a scumbag like most Republicans, but he had been willing to compromise a little recently with Democrats and go up against Grover Norquist on the tax issue.

That led to the Tea Party Express and Amy Kremer threatening to primary him in 2014, so perhaps he didn't want to go through a battle with them.

by Dana Bashreply 201/26/2013

He is a vile creature but I can only imagine what slime will get voted in his place. I live in Atlanta and GA voters are fools.

by Dana Bashreply 301/26/2013

R3, I think Rep. Paul Broun is planning to run to replace Chambliss.

There is also a movement to draft Herman Cain or Allen West.

by Dana Bashreply 401/26/2013

I don't find him the least bit Saxby.

by Dana Bashreply 501/26/2013

This is a big win for Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express. She is already claiming victory for pushing him out and opening the seat up for a Tea Party Senator:

[quote]Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer: “The retirement of Senator Chambliss opens a door for continued Tea Party growth in the U.S. Senate."

by Dana Bashreply 601/26/2013

Rachel Maddow's piece on this today:

by Dana Bashreply 701/26/2013

His campaign against Max Cleland was disgraceful. Good riddance.

by Dana Bashreply 801/26/2013

All that matters now is, can the Democrats pick a candidate strong enough to win this seat?

Democrats may lose Senate seats in 2014 (eg. in West Virginia where Rockefeller is retiring), and so picking up new ones may be necessary to cancel out the losses.

by Dana Bashreply 901/27/2013

In this political climate, how likely would it be for a Democrat to win a Senate seat in GA? It's almost nil.

My only hope is that Karen Handel does not win the seat. Her win would be another set back for the pro-choice movement.

by Dana Bashreply 1001/27/2013

R10, the odds would be against it, but it would be possible if the Republicans pull a Todd Akin or a Richard Mourdock and elect a crazy nominee. No one predicted the Dems could win Indiana in 2012 until the Mourdock implosion.

Bill Clinton won Georgia once and could help campaign for whoever runs for the seat.

by Dana Bashreply 1101/27/2013
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