The Washington Times - March 4, 2013, 12:00PM

Republican Rep. Tom Graves said Monday he won’t run for Georgia’s open Senate seat in 2014, narrowing what is expected to be a crowded primary field for the race to replace the retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Mr. Graves — a tea party favorite who many expected would jump into the Senate race — said the timing wasn’t right to run for state-wide office, saying he instead wanted to make an impact on the powerful House Appropriations Committee on which he serves.


“After receiving so much encouragement to enter the race, I now know we are at the beginning of a long journey in Georgia state politics,” said Mr. Graves, 43, in a prepared statement.

“I look forward to taking on a greater leadership role in our congressional delegation as many of our senior members enter the primary, and it is important for my supporters to know that I intend to continue preparing for future opportunities to serve Georgia.”

He added he was confident he would run a “very competitive campaign” if he entered the Senate race. And he didn’t rule out a future Senate run.

“I raised $1.2 million last cycle, right there with the rest of the pack in Georgia,” Mr. Graves told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And our network has rapidly expanded in the last two years, and we plan to aggressively build on that in the days and weeks ahead.”

Rep. Paul C. Broun is the only declared Republican candidate. GOP Reps. Jack Kingston, Phil Gingrey and Tom Price have been been mentioned as possible candidates, along with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

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

Mr. Chambliss, 69, announced in late January he wouldn’t seek a third term, saying he was frustrated with President Obama’s lack of leadership and Washington’s chronic political gridlock.