Saxby Chambliss, citing gridlock, to retire at end of term
January 25th, 2013
10:17 AM ET
1 year ago

Saxby Chambliss, citing gridlock, to retire at end of term

Washington (CNN) - Saxby Chambliss, the Republican senator from Georgia, said Friday that the "legislative gridlock and partisan posturing" had grown so impenetrable in Washington that he would not seek re-election in 2014,

"This is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation's economic health," Chambliss wrote in a statement announcing his retirement. He pointed to partisan haggling over raising the debt ceiling in 2011, and more recently to the bickering that transpired over a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Those incidents "showed Congress at its worst," Chambliss argued, adding his forecast for future dealings between the White House and Congress was bleak.

"I don't see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon," he wrote. "For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy."

A conservative voice in the upper chamber since 2002, Chambliss recently drew the ire of some activists to his right who took issue with his support for bipartisan compromise. He was a member of the "Gang of Six," which tried in 2011 to strike a bipartisan deal on reducing the federal debt.

Most recently, Chambliss broke with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist by conceding some tax increases are necessary to solve the nation's debt problems, a move that sparked some Republicans to emerge as potential primary challengers in the 2014 election.

Chambliss said Friday those rumblings had nothing to do with his retirement.

"Lest anyone think this decision is about a primary challenge, I have no doubt that had I decided to be a candidate, I would have won re-election," he wrote.

Before becoming a senator, Chambliss served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and before that practiced business and agricultural law in Georgia.

His last election, in 2008, was an unexpectedly close race with Democrat Jim Martin, who was boosted by high turnout among African-Americans also voting for Barack Obama in that year's presidential election. The race went to a runoff, which drew attention and money from national Democrats and Republicans. Chambliss won 57%-43%.

Republicans appear poised to scramble for Chambliss' seat - several potential candidates expressed interest in challenging Chambliss before Friday's retirement news, including two U.S. congressmen from Georgia, Tom Price and Paul Broun. Two additional Georgia representatives, Tom Graves and Phil Gingrey, could also run for Senate.

A spokesman for Price said Friday the congressman "is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received. He is speaking with a number of folks across the state of Georgia and listening to their observations and advice. He'll continue to listen and make a decision and announcement at the appropriate time."

Erick Erickson, the editor of RedState.com and a CNN contributor, expressed interest in Chambliss' seat last year before deciding against a run. Former pizza executive and presidential candidate Herman Cain has also been mentioned as a potential contender for Chambliss' seat, though he denied he was interested in the spot on his radio show Friday.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented Georgia in the U.S. House, also said Friday he wasn't interested in running for Chambliss' seat.

Democrats said Friday that Chambliss' retirement offers "one of our best pick-up opportunities of the cycle."

"There are already several reports of the potential for a divisive primary that will push Republicans to the extreme right," Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "Regardless, there's no question that the demographics of the state have changed and Democrats are gaining strength. This will be a top priority."

Democrats currently hold a majority in the Senate, including two independent senators. Thirty-five Senate seats will be open for re-election in 2014 – Democrats will be defending 21 of them, while Republicans will defend 14.

CNN's Jim Acosta, Deirdre Walsh and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Saxby Chambliss
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Jerubbaal

    The GOP will continue to become more extreme and more irrelevant.

    January 25, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. plain&simple

    The not stupid republicans are leaving....The stupid ones might want to take that as a sign!! Hey Bobby tell them It's a sign!!!!

    January 25, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. vic , nashville ,tn

    He got warning letter from Tea Party

    January 25, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Sniffit

    Single most important political issue facing the country: the GOP/Teatrolls' plans to grossly and unabashedly alter the electoral college, but only in states with GOP/Teatroll state governments that tend to vote for Dem POTUS candidates, so that the electoral vote allocations are massively rigged in favor of white, rural, GOP voters. This effectively devalues each vote cast by urban and suburban voters and, especially, minority voters and is no less of an effort to suppress voting than the nonsense that was enacted similar red-controlled states that vote blue for POTUS around the country in their attempts to suppress Dem and minority voter turnout for 2012 under the guise of preventing the demonstrably non-problem of "voter fraud."

    CNN reports: so and so is retiring and so and so is blabbering trying to position himself for a POTUS election 4 years from now and don't forget everyone...yell at each other about gun rights and gun safety and wild paranoid fantasies of overthrowing the gov't just because your side isn't in control.

    January 25, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Sniffit

    Single most important political issue facing the country: the GOP/Teatrolls' plans to grossly and unabashedly alter the electoral college, but only in states with GOP/Teatroll state governments that tend to vote for Dem POTUS candidates, so that the electoral vote allocations are massively rigged in favor of white, rural, GOP voters. This effectively devalues each vote cast by urban and suburban voters and, especially, minority voters and is no less of an effort to suppress voting than the nonsense that was enacted similar red-controlled states that vote blue for POTUS around the country in their attempts to suppress Dem and minority voter turnout for 2012 under the guise of preventing the demonstrably non-problem of "voter fraud." The GOP/Teatrolls have simply decided "oh, well, I guess we can't stop them from voting, so let's make their votes count less."

    CNN reports: so and so is retiring and so and so is blabbering trying to position himself for a POTUS election 4 years from now and don't forget everyone...yell at each other about gun rights and gun safety and wild paranoid fantasies of overthrowing the gov't just because your side isn't in control.

    January 25, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Malory Archer

    Good riddance to bad trash!

    January 25, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Paul

    I think his district demographics is changing and sees the writing on the wall, plus he can become a lobbist.

    January 25, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. much thunder.little rain

    He is a senator not a rep.and Georgia is a big time red state..he has no district..

    January 25, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. joe

    Good riddance. I have not forgotten the ugly smear campaign he ran to get the job in the first place.

    January 25, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. scarshapedstar1

    Good riddance to a truly wretched man. Max Cleland waves goodbye with his one remaining limb.

    January 25, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  11. RINO2

    The tactics of today's far right in the primaries is analagous to shooting off one's foot just before having to run a marathon knowing you're going to bleed out before going the distance. Yet they do it anyway. Perhaps that is the new definition of insane.

    January 25, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. They keep on biting

    Loving this, another republican who has been beaten up by his own party so he decides to throw in the towel. GOP tea party will find a candidate to run for the seat and they will be so extreme they lose the general election to the democrat. Loving it loving it loving it!!!

    January 25, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    The rebranding of the Republican Party continues to the extreme right.

    January 25, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. ST

    And when is Rand Paul disappearing?

    January 25, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. Lilli

    Good riddance!!!! And I pray the demographics have changed enough in this red state to allow a sensible 21st CENTURY replacement!!

    January 25, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. jinx88

    Tea Party gave him a pink slip. How dare him go against the right wing bad ideas. Shame on him.

    January 25, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. Sametestsameresults

    The Tea Party and it's NO COMPROMISE attitude continues to attack and strike down reasoning politicians from the GOP. Soon the GOP will be come so small and irrelvant because only 11% of America is really Tea Party extremists. They hold the rest of the GOP politicians hostage for their crazy mandate and the voters are leaving them in droves and it is not going to improve. The Tea Party and even some of the guys like Gingrich from the 80's have been continuing to disenfranchise moderate candidates as well as voters. Good riddance Tea Party this retirement marks one more nail in your extremist agenda. You lost 2012 and you will lose again in 2014. The Democrats (especially the black and hispanic vote) will not just sit on the side line in this non presidential year election. You will lose more seats and lose more sway in the arguement but what is sad is you have destroyed the GOP in the process.

    January 25, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  18. Bill from GA

    As a candidate first running for the Senate, Saxby was as bad as they come.

    As a Republican Senator of the last decade, he was far from the worst.

    January 25, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. Bill from GA

    "There are already several reports of the potential for a divisive primary that will push Republicans to the extreme right,"

    That will be a total HOOT! These Georgia conservative repubs will make the last Presidential Primary look like a Mensa Contest.

    January 25, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Oh, so the draft-dodger that never served in the military who accused a disabled veteran of being soft on terrorism is finally leaving. Too bad he will get a pension for the rest of his life. He deserves nothing but our contempt, instead.

    January 25, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. courage

    COurage is apparently only available to those who retire. Can't catch him now Norquist.

    January 25, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. California Gary

    Glad to see this guy going down.......when he first ran in 2002, he belittled the sitting senator at the time, calling him soft on terror and questioning his patriotism. The man had left both legs in Viet Nam.......Chambliss is and always has been a big phoney and a dirty player.

    January 25, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. PTBarnumBoy

    This would be good news except for the fact that he will be replaced by somebody even worse. Those good-ole-boys and girls in Georgia aren't noted for making good decisions.

    January 25, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. Jeb

    The Republican party has been purging moderates and replacing them with far right crazies for the last 10 years.

    January 25, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. Willie K.

    He wants to compromise and find sensible solutions to our problems, so he has to go home. So sayeth the TeaPublicans.

    January 25, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
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