The former governor could have been a formidable contender, based on his high popularity ratings while in office (2003-2010). For what it’s worth, a GaPundit.com poll Monday showed Perdue was backed by 22 percent of the voters sampled with former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel second at 15 percent, followed by three of Georgia’s most conservative Republican congressmen, Paul Broun of Athens with 10.3 percent; Tom Price of Roswell, 9.7 percent; and Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta, 8.4 percent. Broun and Price have indicated they might run.
In a statement, Perdue said he was flattered by “friends from across Georgia who contacted me … and offered their support.” But he said his heart was not in it, adding: “I am at a stage in life where there are simply too many positive distractions — a dozen grandchildren with number 13 on the way, business obligations and a loving and devoted wife who has absolutely no interest in living in Washington, and who could blame her?” Obviously, Mrs. Perdue wasn’t behind the door when good sense was handed out.
Perdue’s opting out followed the same decision by another potential candidate, Herman Cain, who made a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 but withdrew after accusations of sexual misconduct with several women surfaced — which Cain denied. But his candidacy for the Senate likely would have been short-circuited by the allegations. Besides, as he said in announcing he wouldn’t run, he was focused on his nationally syndicated talk radio show in its first week on the air.
The allure of a U.S. Senate seat likely will prove irresistible to at least several Georgia congressmen including tea party favorites Broun, Price and possibly Tom Graves of Ranger, just ranked first among Georgia’s delegation by the conservative Heritage Action. And as Around Town pointed out this week, Congressmen Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Jack Kingston of Savannah might be tempted to run. As for Karen Handel, who narrowly lost to Nathan Deal in the 2010 Republican primary runoff, there is speculation that if Price runs, Handel will not run because the congressman was the lone member of the Georgia delegation supporting her in the governor’s race. We will see.
Chambliss saw the handwriting on the wall after his base of support crumbled because he tried to work out a bipartisan deal to reduce the humongous federal deficit last year. He voted for the fiscal cliff agreement approved by the Senate that would have raised taxes on wealthy Americans — a vote anathema to his party’s strongest conservatives.
The Republican primary race for the Senate seat is going to be a free-for-all among a large field of candidates vying to prove which is the most genuine, certified, real and uncompromising conservative. Prediction: that candidate will be the winner.