- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003

Sen. Zell Miller, the conservative Democrat who is nearly a living legend in his home state of Georgia, announced yesterday he will not seek re-election in 2004.
"It has been a great honor to serve as a U.S. senator from Georgia, and I thank Governor [Roy] Barnes for appointing me and the people of Georgia for electing me," Mr. Miller said in a statement. He did not give a reason for his decision, but said he and Shirley, his wife of 48 years, will tour the state this summer to thank residents "who have been so good to us for so many years."
Mr. Miller also promised to make his last two years in the Senate productive.
"I realize some will call me a 'lame duck,'" he said. "But those who know me know I will be the 'same duck,' continuing to serve no single party but all the people of Georgia."
That spirit drew praise from colleagues like Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat.
"He's been a great senator because he stands for his principles," Mr. Nelson said, though he added there may be a bright side to Mr. Miller's decision: "Maybe it will permit us both to get out and do a little more hunting."
Ralph Reed, chairman of Georgia's Republican Party, said Mr. Miller's resignation is an "epochal and pivotal moment" in Georgia and Southern politics.
"He probably did more than any other single individual to artificially perpetuate a Democratic majority in Georgia," Mr. Reed said, crediting Mr. Miller's popularity across party lines with boosting the entire Democratic Party.
Mr. Miller said he was making his announcement early to give candidates time to prepare to run, but he won't endorse anyone.
Mr. Miller was a four-term lieutenant governor and a two-term governor of Georgia. In 2000 he was appointed by Mr. Barnes, a Democrat, to fill the seat of Sen. Paul Coverdell, a Republican, who died. Later that year, Mr. Miller was elected to serve the remainder of the term, which is up for election in November 2004.
As a senator he worked often with President Bush, helping pass his tax cut in 2001 and his plan for a Department of Homeland Security last year.
Election trends in Georgia give Republicans hope of winning Mr. Miller's seat. Mr. Barnes and Democratic Sen. Max Cleland both lost their re-elections bids in November, and Republicans defied Democrats' redistricting plans by winning two new congressional districts designed to elect Democrats.
Mr. Reed said Georgia will be one of the "top two or three" Senate races next year.
Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican and new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the signs are good for his party.
"It's a state President Bush carried overwhelmingly in 2000. Newly elected Senator Saxby Chambliss and Governor Sonny Perdue proved the state is friendly territory for Republican leaders that reflect the values and beliefs of Georgia families."
In addition, Republicans have a stable of credible candidates.
Former Rep. Bob Barr, who lost a primary battle to fellow Republican John Linder last year, was examining a run for the Republican nomination yesterday. Other names mentioned are Rep. Mac Collins, Rep. Jack Kingston and Bob Irvin, a state representative who lost the Senate primary this year to Mr. Chambliss.
But Democrats promised to fight for the seat.
"It's a seat that we expect to hold," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat. Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat and new chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said his party has plenty of potential candidates for the seat.
Among the Democratic names being floated are Mr. Cleland, Mr. Barnes, Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Sanford Bishop.

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