Chambliss Out – Is There a Doctor in The House?

By John Fredericks

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss will not run for re-election in 2014

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) was in deep trouble for his reelection bid to a third-term in Georgia for months.

Painted into a corner by Peach State Tea Party enthusiasts as a RINO (Republican In Name Only), Chambliss was vilified by hard right conservatives for his participation in the U.S. Senate’s infamous “Gang of Six,” his support of former President George W. Bush’s immigration plan and his penchant for pork barrel politics. Chambliss was dubbed the earmark king of Georgia, steering millions of federal dollars into the South Georgia agricultural community, his home base. In addition, Tea Partiers in Georgia never forgave Chambliss for his support of TARP in 2008.

Georgia’s senior senator survived a surprisingly close reelection bid in 2008, edging out liberal former state senator Jim Martin, who was bankrolled by newly elected President Barack Obama’s campaign team. Chambliss narrowly prevailed in a bruising December run-off election.

Chambliss, a close friend and political allay of U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), is the ranking minority member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Suffering from chronic health problems, it was rumored that Chambliss wouldn’t seek a third term last year. But the former U.S. House Rep. from Moultrie, a southern Georgia farming town, told this reporter last summer that he was “unequivocally a candidate for the US Senate in 2014.”

“Leadership is about taking risks when you don’t have to,” commented Warner.

“That’s why I respect Saxby Chambliss for his willingness to partner with me and other members of what became known as the Gang of Six as we worked for bipartisan solutions on debt and deficits…Washington needs more leaders like Saxby Chambliss who are willing to step up, reach across the aisle and work toward reasonable solutions to our nation’s challenges,” Warner added in a prepared statement.

Doctor, Doctor…Give Me The News

Chambliss, if he indeed sought another term, was expected to get a very serious primary challenge from the right, in the form of at least one of three conservative doctors: U.S. House Representatives Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA-6th), a Tea Party darling in Georgia, Paul Broun, M.D. (R-GA/10th), who is at odds with GOP leadership in Washington, and Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA/9th), a prolific fundraiser. Another Georgia Congressman, Savannah’s powerful Jack Kingston (R-GA/1st), is also expected to run.

Is The Price Right?

Price, however, is expected to face fierce resistance from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) and his entire statewide campaign machine. Price, a one time supporter of Deal’s 2010 primary bid for Governor, abandoned his former House colleague at the eleventh hour and endorsed former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, when Deal was languishing in the polls.

Deal came back from political dead and eventually prevailed over Handel in a bitter run-off. Bad blood between the camps still boils.

Sources in Atlanta have told me the Deal has asked U.S. House Rep. Lynn Westmorland (R-GA/8th) to consider running for Chambliss’ seat as well.

In an interesting twist, if Price runs, his wife, Dr. Betty Price, a Roswell, GA councilwoman, is likely to launch a campaign simultaneously for her husband’s Sixth District Congressional seat. A Price daily double victory could make them the Beltway’s newest version of power couple politics, not seen since New York U.S. House members Susan Molinari and Bill Paxon got hitched in the ’90’s. But Ms. Price will face a litany of opponents, most notably former Georgia House Speaker Mark Burkhalter, who now runs an international consulting firm.

Bait and Switch in Virginia State Senate

Friday on the John Fredericks Morning Radio Show, which broadcasts from the nation’s capital and is syndicated on local stations in Washington D.C. and throughout the Commonwealth, Va. State Senator Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield), also a candidate for his party’s nomination for Lt. Governor, said the senate redistricting legislation pushed through Monday afternoon was appropriate and fair play. The Republican senate ploy, which strengthens swing senate districts by pulling in more Republican voters, was lambasted by senate Democrats as an underhanded power play.

The legislation passed 20-19 along partisan lines. One Democratic Senator, Henry Marsh (D-Richmond City) was detained by Inaugural festivities and could not get back to Richmond in time to vote. State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said the “sneaky” Republicans called for the floor vote at the precise time they knew he couldn’t physically make it back to the statehouse in time for the roll call. The Virginia Senate is tied: 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats. The deciding vote would have fallen to Va. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) — who vowed to vote it down.

When questioned, Martin said he could not verify the exact timing of the roll-call vote.

Martin, a 25-year veteran of the Virginia state senate, bailed on Governor Bob McDonnell’s sweeping transportation plan. Martin said he preferred to fund transportation through spending cuts, and endorsed the proposal forwarded by Virginia businessman and entrepreneur Pete Snyder, another GOP candidate for Lt. Governor. Snyder has called for no new taxes and favors an across the board 10 percent spending cut. Martin said he has advocated this approach in the state senate for several sessions.

Mullins Mania

Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, who talked with us on Friday live from the Republican National Committee winter meetings in Charlotte, N.C., says he voted to elect RNC Chairma Rience Priebus to a second-term. Mullins was a key supporter of Preibus in 2011 when he ousted incumbent chairman Michael Steele, who presided over deficit spending and had his share of public relations debacles. Steele has since called Priebus’ tenure “an absolute failure.”

Mullins said he finally retired a $300,000 RPV debt that he inherited when he took over the Party chair in 2009. “We have revitalized our fundraising initiatives, reigned in spending and our donor base has expanded, Mullins said.

The Chairman, who took over the party from the disgraced regime of former Del. Jeffrey Frederick, shared that one of the highlights of the RNC winter meeting was an address to the group by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said the Republican Party needs to rebrand itself as the party of big, bold ideas for reform that stands for individual liberty in contrast to the Democrats who are the Party of “big government bureaucrats” who tell you what to do.

Mullins has been a steadfast critic of the Romney campaign apparatus in Boston. “They’re voter turnout forecasting was [flawed] and they never contemplated the huge turnout Obama marshaled in Virginia,” Mullins offered.

The sage RPV leader expressed confidence that the Republican statewide ticket led by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would trump presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe in the fall election.

Monday, January 28 on the John Fredericks Show

RNC Chairman Rience Priebus

Elected in Charlotte at the winter meetings to a second term as RNC Chairman, we’ll get the inside scoop on what the national GOP intends to do to reverse its poor showing in the 2012 election.

Grover Norquist, Founder and President of Americans for Tax Reform

Grover Norquist doesn’t think much of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s (R) sweeping transportation reform proposal, which just made it out of subcommittee. We like governor’s bold plan. We’ll go toe to toe. Don’t miss this.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)

If you don’t think junior Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is going have too much of an impact on 2013-2014 upper chamber, think again. In office for a mere two weeks, Kaine has already weighed in on both economic and international issues facing this Congress. We’ll get his signature inside baseball analysis.

John Fredericks is syndicated radio talk show host in Virginia and can be heard M-F 6-9 a.m. on WTNT –AM 730 & 102.9FM in D.C., WLEE AM 990 in Richmond, WHKT AM 1650 in Tidewater and WBRG AM 1050 & 104.5 FM in Lynchburg – Roanoke- Charlottesville or streaming online at Fredericks is a proud sponsor of Virginia Line Media, LLC.