Political Animal


January 25, 2013 11:59 AM Let the Extremist Games Begin!

By Ed Kilgore

So for those who enjoy fractious Republican Senate primaries, the bad news is that there won’t be a “RINO hunt” for Saxby Chambliss in Georgia next year, thanks to Chambliss’ decision to hang it up when his term expires. The good news is that an open-seat competition with (potentially) such very loose cannons as Paul Broun, Jr., and Phil Gingrey should be quite the show. And that assessment doesn’t even include the possibility of someone outside the Georgia congressional delegation (Herman Cain has already said he’s not interested, but there’s always Newt!) running an “anti-Washington” campaign to the right even of these zany men.

In reporting the retirement, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s Jim Galloway mentions another possibility:

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.”

It certainly bears watching. Keep the popcorn handy.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on January 25, 2013 12:20 PM:

    Come back!

    Cleland will only be 72 in 2014 - a veritable spring chicken in Senate age.

  • Peter C on January 25, 2013 12:23 PM:

    I will not want any popcorn until I hear who the Democrats are going to run. I guess I'll be happy if it isn't Alvin Greene, for chrissakes!

  • CharlieM on January 25, 2013 12:33 PM:

    The primary will be the election. Just wishful thinking to believe any Democrat worthy of the name would serve as more than a minor bump in the road to whoever wins the Republican primary.
    Georgia has a terminal case of TeaParty Stupid.

  • Yellow dog on January 25, 2013 12:38 PM:

    PPP poll in December ranked Cleland as the state's most popular Democrat and showed a decent number in head to head poll versus Saxby. Chambliss was the favorite. An open seat is thus a big boost for the Democrats in a tough state. There are a number of GOP House members who might run, but they are not well known statewide. Problem for Democrats is that there are not very many elastic voters in Georgia. It would be tough to win, though not impossible.

  • T-Rex on January 25, 2013 1:06 PM:

    You guys beat me to it. 12 years ago Chambliss stole that seat from a better man (the first time Diebold touch-screen voting machines were used, with highly suspect results). It's time Cleland took it back.

  • jjdaddyo on January 25, 2013 1:42 PM:

    All of you guys with visions of Cleland making a comeback must live in Little Five Points or something. It will never, never, never, never, never, never, never, happen.

    The most Democrats in the state can hope for is that the new (Republican) Senator can read and is a conservative member of the Flat-Earth, zygotes and corporations are people, Young Earth Creationist Party,
    and not a *fundamentalist* member of the Flat-Earth,zygotes and corporations are people, Young Earth Creationist Party.

  • Karen on January 25, 2013 2:16 PM:

    To all the "itllneverhappeners": the Dems winning isn't likely, but deciding now that it's hopeless guarantees we will lose. The only way we winks to make a real race. Even if the Dems lose, making the R's spend $$$ on what should be a shoe-in race is also a worthy result.

  • Hyde on January 25, 2013 3:00 PM:

    Obama finished 8 points behind Romney in Georgia last November, and that's without even putting forth an effort. Democrats certainly begin with a stronger base there than they have in North Dakota, where there are now two Dem senators. Saying upfront that this is an unwinnable seat doesn't seem justified, especially when you look at how absolutely nutty the GOP bench in Georgia is.

  • pjcamp on January 25, 2013 11:39 PM:

    As a Georgian, I, for one, am glad to see the back of Chambliss. What he did to Max Cleland was despicable. And his moral character has slid steadily downward from there.