December 2nd, 2008
09:56 AM ET
9 years ago

Voting underway in crucial Senate election

Chambliss has the edge heading into the special election Tuesday.

Chambliss has the edge heading into the special election Tuesday.

(CNN) - The final votes of the 2008 election are being cast in Georgia this morning, in a race that could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Polls in the state opened at 7 a.m., and close at 7 this evening in the runoff vote between incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin.

Turnout will be crucial to the outcome of this election, and both sides bet on political superstars in the race’s waning days to help bring out the base. "Generally they can help boost turnout, because of all the media attention," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. "Turnout in a runoff election is often very low compared to a presidential election, and each side needs to get as many of their voters to the polls as possible."

Alaska governor and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin teamed up with Chambliss at four campaign events across Georgia on Monday.

"You Georgians are going to have the opportunity to determine the direction this country is going to take," said Palin during a campaign rally in Perry, in south Georgia. "This election is that important and I know come tomorrow night Georgians are going to speak and Georgia's going to speak with a loud and clear voice. We want to make sure we have at least 41 Republicans in the United States Senate to make sure that we shape bad legislation, or kill bad legislation."

Chambliss had urged Palin to come to Georgia and help him get out the conservative vote. Chambliss was "happy to become the warm-up act at his own final rallies," said CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, who is covering the Georgia runoff election.

Palin added her name to the list of big-name surrogates who have made campaign cameos in the last remaining Senate election this year. Sen. John McCain returned to the trail to campaign with Chambliss just nine days after losing the presidential election to Obama. So have some of his Republican primary rivals, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — all likely 2012 candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, along with Palin.

Martin also received some major-league help. Both former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore have separately teamed up with him. And while Barack Obama resisted Martin's invitation to come down to Georgia in person, the president-elect did lend his voice to a 60-second radio ad that's been running in the state for over a week. And many who worked in Georgia for Obama during the general election campaign are now assisting Martin.

On Monday, Martin teamed up with Rep. John Lewis and other prominent Georgia Democrats before ending the day at a rally at the State Capitol in Atlanta with rapper Ludacris.

Martin called Palin's four campaign stops Monday a sign of desperation for Chambliss, adding that "bringing Sarah Palin is not going to help him (Chambliss) because the voters of Georgia want someone who will stand up for them in Washington. Someone who understands their issues."

This is Georgia's first runoff election for a U.S. Senate seat since 1992, when incumbent Democrat Wyche Fowler won a plurality of the vote on election day but lost the runoff election to Republican Paul Coverdale. State law requires a runoff if no candidate initially receives a majority of the vote.

Democrats have so far picked up seven Senate seats in their quest for a filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats, with Republican-held seats in Georgia and Minnesota still undecided. In Minnesota, freshman GOP Sen. Norm Coleman topped Democratic challenger Al Franken by just 215 votes, triggering an automatic recount that will extend well into December.

Filed under: Senate
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. NY republican

    Earth to Locutus – The people of Georgia will FINALLY get to voice their opinion on what's good for Georgia. Not the carpetbagging full-time campaigners of BOTH parties, not the press, not even aliens such as you Borg. Please go back to your collective in Star Trek land and let Georgians figure out what's good for Georgia

    December 2, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. Matt, Chico, CA

    Yes Palin has a state to run. But Governors leave their home state all the time for trips/meetings/events.... it's as though we have some sort of technology that could keep people connected to far away places... WHOA there I go with some radical thinking that people can MULTI-TASK

    December 2, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. NY republican

    @ Georgia for Martin – you really aught to try proofreading your blog before you accuse others of being "dummy". Especially in the Geart country of "American"

    December 2, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Uncle Fester

    Matt B
    Please provide documentation where Obama, Biden or anyone else in the campaign impuned McCain's or Betrayus's patriotism or war injuries. Questioning policy or qualifications is not the same as attacking the character of the person, which is what Chambliss did to Max Cleland. Chambliss is a 4 deferrment draft dodging slime ball. It's time for the people of Georgia to correct what they screwed up so badly in 2002

    December 2, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Turning the page

    Georgia, please get with the program already and kick this bum out. His are the ideas and tactics of old that have failed miserably.

    December 2, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Peter (CA)

    Jeff in Illinois–

    You made the cardinal blogging mistake. You tried to use logic in your argument. It's all about emotional spewing, especially from the right wingers just hoping Obama makes a mistake.

    Your maturity has no place here.

    December 2, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Peter (CA)


    Wow! The logic is incredible. The market continues to fall due to all of the bad news that the current administration's policies have brought out.

    Last week, the market had 5 great days. It was said that happened because Obama announced his economic team. Yesterday stunk. Why? Because as most of us with a clue already knew-we've been in a recession for a year now. But, it was finally announced yesterday.

    Your guys made the mess. Our guys are already on the job cleaning up. What is Bush doing?

    December 2, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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