Word from Washington on Monday was that should House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cave in and agree to raise taxes as part of a “fiscal cliff” budget deal with President Obama, U.S. Rep. Price (R-Roswell) might challenge him for the speakership. Price’s heavily Republican district includes all of east Cobb and parts of Marietta.
Price has not officially declared such an intention, but didn’t deny it either in the course of an interview with columnist Robert Costa of the conservative National Review Online.
“My concern is that within our conference, conservatives, who are a majority, don’t have a proper platform,” Price said. “That’s true at the leadership table and on the steering committee.”
YOU’LL RECALL that last month Price narrowly lost a bid for House Republican Conference Chairman — the No. 4 GOP leadership post in the House — to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who had Boehner’s support. Price was supported by such conservative stalwarts as Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.).
House conservatives also are upset that Boehner moved four fellow conservatives off their favored committees, Costa said. A House Republican told that columnist that Price is steadily assembling an informal coalition of conservatives. Price also is said to have recently visited the office of anti-tax lightning rod Grover Norquist.
Costa predicted Price would run only if there is a “groundswell” against Boehner in the wake of a budget deal with Obama.
Few ever expected to see the U.S. House of Representatives elect a Cobb resident as speaker, until the Republican upset of 1994 launched east Cobb’s Newt Gingrich into that role. A second speaker from a Cobb-based congressional district would be truly remarkable.
PRICE ALSO IS RUMORED to be looking closely at a run for the U.S. Senate seat representing Georgia now held by fellow Republican Saxby Chambliss of Moultrie.
Chambliss has been on the hot seat during the fiscal cliff talks for seeming to disavow the Norquist “anti-tax” pledge he signed two decades ago. His perceived difficulties have given him a bigger share of the spotlight than he usually sees. A case in point was the Dec. 1 Cobb GOP Breakfast at which he was keynote speaker, which was covered not just by the Marietta Daily Journal and other local media but, in absentia, by National Review, which was founded by late conservative godfather William F. Buckley and is a “must-read” for many conservatives.
The story, posted on National Review Online by Costa, (who was not present for the event but talked afterwards by phone with a number of those who were) quoted Cobb GOP head Joe Dendy and retired Cobb educator Helen Story.
It noted that in addition to the “name” candidates like Price, that state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) and Madison Forum head Michael Opitz of Cobb also are among those interested in running against Chambliss.
Wrote Costa, “Chambliss poured on the charm and he was politely welcomed. But he was not embraced.”
It’s too soon to say whether things will get better or worse for Chambliss. But another sign of his suddenly awkward status could be found in the headline over the NRO story, which read: “Taxby’s Troubles.”
MEANWHILE, a poll taken in connection the 2014 race for Chambliss’ seat contains both bad and good news for the incumbent in terms of a potential primary challenge.
Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., polled 729 Georgia voters, including 389 usual Republican primary voters, between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2. PPP is not connected with any party or candidate.
Its poll found only 38 percent of the Republican voters wanted Chambliss as their nominee, and 43 percent of them wanting someone more conservative.
That’s the bad news for Chambliss. The good news is that he won each and every head-to-head match-up put by PPP to those it surveyed against those mentioned as the senator’s potential challengers.
Chambliss lead Price by 52-34, former Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel by 52-23 and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens) by 57-14.
AS FOR DEMOCRATS, former Sen. Max Cleland (who Chambliss unseated in 2002) fared best. He was given a favorable rating by 50 percent of respondents, but only tied Chambliss 45-45 as a candidate in the hypothetical matchup.
Chambliss outpolled former Gov. Roy Barnes of Marietta 48-40, Rep. John Barrow 50-37, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed 52-37 and state Sen. Jason Carter (former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson) 52-34.
PPP also tested Price against the Democrats, and he trailed Cleland 47-39 and Barnes 46-40.
AFTER A DECADE in office, Chambliss clearly has the name-recognition advantage over most potential foes.
There is at least one exception, though: former presidential candidate and pizza mogul Herman Cain. The PPP also matched Chambliss and Cain head-to-head — and Cain was the clear winner, 50-36.
The good news for Chambliss is that Cain has said he is not running. As most Around Town readers know, he will take over Neal Boortz’s syndicated talk show next year on WSB.