Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has announced that he was received notice that Sen. Saxby Chambliss will be retiring at the end of his second term. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s Political Insider blog, Deal asked Chambliss to finish his current term before retiring.
“I told him to make sure he served out his full term because I didn’t want to appoint someone,” Dean told the AJC.
Two far-right state Republicans have already declared their intention to run for Chambliss’ seat, Roswell’s U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R) and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who infamously declared in 2012 that evolution, quantum physics and other established scientific facts are “lies from the pit of Hell.” Broun announced on Tuesday that he was thinking of mounting a primary challenge against Chambliss, who has angered conservatives by participating in the “Gang of Six” effort to broker a budget deal in late 2012.
Initially Broun was coy about the idea.
“I don’t know. I’m honored that a lot of people are asking me to run. I’ve not made that decision,” he said to conservative radio host Tim Bryant in an interview on WGAU (1340 AM) in Athens. “It’s not the time to think about it.”
When pressed, however, he did admit he was considering a run, saying, “When people encourage you to run, how can you not think about it?”
Chambliss was elected in 2002 after a notoriously acrimonious campaign against Vietnam war hero and triple amputee Sen. Max Cleland. The New York Times remarked on the “venomous” tone of the campaign in which Chambliss, who used multiple medical deferments to avoid service during the Vietnam war, accused Cleland, who lost two legs and his right arm during a mission in Khe San, of being soft on defense.
The Chambliss campaign ran a controversial attack ad that superimposed a photo of decorated veteran Cleland against the faces of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and terrorist Osama bin Laden. It is considered by many to be a historic low-water mark in U.S. electioneering tactics.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the Chambliss ad “worse than disgraceful, it’s reprehensible.” Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) threatened to run his own ad in Georgia against Chambliss unless the ad was pulled from the airwaves. He was eventually dissuaded and Cleland was defeated that November.
Chambliss was subpoenaed in 2008 in the investigation into the Imperial Sugar Plant explosion and fire which killed 14 people and injured scores of others in Port Wentworth, Georgia on February 7 of that year. The investigation was attempting to ascertain whether Chambliss, who received campaign donations from Imperial Sugar in 2007, had intentionally misdirected an official inquiry into the blast, which was caused by lax safety standards, and attempted to dissuade people affected by the blast from suing the company.
The senator claimed legislative immunity in the case and refused to testify. Executives at Imperial Sugar praised Chambliss as having “behaved appropriately with character and integrity at all times.”
The AJC said that Chambliss has been having rumblings of doubt about pursuing a third term. “This is an eight-year decision for me. It’s two years [campaigning] plus six years” in office, he said earlier this month. “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.”