- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2013

Potential front-runners to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss aren’t ready to officially jump into the race for the Georgia Republican’s seat but they’re not denying interest in the job.

Speculation had persisted the past year of a possible tea party-backed primary challenger in 2014, but Mr. Chambliss‘ announcement Friday that he won’t seek re-election after completing his second term has triggered a scramble for the seat.

House Reps. Tom Price and Paul C. Broun are two early GOP favorites. Georgia has been trending solidly Republican in recent elections.

A Price spokeswoman said 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,” Ellen Carmichael said.

Newt Gingrich, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, told CNN on Friday that he spoke with Mr. Price earlier in the day and believes he will run for the Senate seat.

The former House speaker from Georgia added he won’t run himself.

Mr. Broun said he is “prayerfully considering my own future” but otherwise gave little hint as to his whether he is considering a Senate run.

“I commend Sen. Chambliss for his role as a true citizen-legislator and his commitment to pass the torch to another who will fight to rein in taxes and government spending so our children and grandchildren can have a better future,” Mr. Broun said.

But Georgia Democrats say Mr. Chambliss‘ retirement presents a “great opportunity” to claim the seat for their party.

“This development gives us the time we need to field an exceptional candidate for the race,” said Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Berlon.

Mr. Berlon said the party began vetting potential candidates months ago but is in no hurry to name a finalist.

He added that with the state’s changing demographics and President Obama receiving more than 45 percent of the vote in November, “there is no question that Georgia is on the way to turning blue.”

Potential Democratic candidates mentioned are Rep. John Barrow, a member of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Barrow spokesman Richard Carbo said the congressman is “focused on re-election in the 12th District” and “hasn’t given a Senate run any serious thought, but he’s gratified that folks are suggesting his name.”

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