The Georgia Senate picture is becoming clearer as one Republican congressman is prepared to make public his intention to run statewide, while another is saying that he will stay in the House.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) is expected to announce his Senate candidacy later today, becoming the first official candidate in the open seat race. He should be able to attract strong grassroots and Tea Party support for his effort. Broun was first elected in a July 2007 special election to replace the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R), defeating the favored establishment Republican primary candidate.
Conversely, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3), citing his enhanced position within the House leadership, says he will not enter the campaign to succeed the retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).
It is possible, however, that a quartet of Republican congressmen could be part of the eventual GOP field of Senate candidates. Expected to soon follow Broun’s lead is Rep. Tom Price (R-GA-6), virtually a certain Senate entry who will likely be the best funded candidate. Reports from both south Georgia and the Atlanta suburbs also suggest that Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11), respectively, will also eventually declare their candidacies. Gingrey says he is now polling the state to test his viability. It is also probable that one or more current or former statewide office holders will also launch a quest for the Senate, making the GOP primary a very crowded affair.
No Democrat has yet to officially declare his or her candidacy, but Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is certainly a prospect, though he continually deflects reporters’ questions about the subject. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) originally said he would not run statewide immediately after Sen. Chambliss announced his retirement, but his name continues to be mentioned among Democratic possibilities without regard to his previous statements.
The Georgia primary is typically held in July, with an August run-off should no candidate receive a majority of the vote. A run-off, if necessary, features the top two finishers within each respective political party. The actual dates will be announced after the state’s 2013 elections. If, however, the Georgia election officials follow the same calendar progression from 2012, the primary will be held July 29, followed by an Aug. 19 run-off vote.