Senator Chambliss, just a few short months ago, was considered to be the safest Republican senator up for re-election in 2008. Scott Rasmussen, the pollster, had him at 97% likely to be re-elected. In the last few weeks, the race has tightened between Chambliss and challenger Jim Martin. With that came a $500,000 ad buy from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee slamming Chambliss’ support of the National Retail Sales Tax, or the FairTax.
This tactic has had some success in House races like the one between Democrat Rep. John Barrow and former Rep. Max Burns, both of Georgia. However, in Senate races, it hasn’t worked. Sen. Jim DeMint was the target using an ad about the FairTax in his election in 2004, and he still handily beat his opponent to win the seat formerly held by Fritz Hollings.
In a debate on Sunday, Martin said he didn’t run the ad but that it was factually accurate. This difference is twofold in this race. First, the FairTax is very popular in Georgia, so attacking Chambliss on the FairTax will actually help him with his base, not hurt him, and he needs his base right now. Secondly, the issues that could really help Martin beat Chambliss, Martin agrees with.
Chambliss’ vulnerability stems from the moment in June of 2007 when he stood behind Sen. Ted Kennedy at a press conference announcing the bi-partisan agreement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Martin can’t oppose Chambliss on this as he’s an amnesty guy and is even farther to the left of Chambliss on this issue.
Then the renewal of the Ag Bill came, which was supported strongly in the southern part of the state and then opposed strongly in the northern part. Martin can’t oppose Chambliss on this because he thinks the Ag Bill didn’t go far enough to provide subsidies for farmers.
Then, just when Senator McCain was getting some traction and closing the gap with Senator Obama on the issue of oil, Chambliss and the Gang of 10 pulled the rug out from under McCain and stopped the forward progress of the campaign. But again, Martin can’t oppose Chambliss on this.
The final straw was Chambliss’ vote on the $700 billion bailout bill. McCain and Chambliss should have voted no on this. McCain should have voted against it at the very least because of the earmarks and Chambliss because of the vocal opposition by his constituents. There is a discontent in Georgia, and the question is will the voters support McCain and protest by not supporting Chambliss, or will they vote for both of them. Barack Obama will not win Georgia, but Chambliss may be the price — the base is angry at fiscal policy, and they want someone to pay.
No one believed that the 20-point lead Chambliss had right after the primary was right, but they also didn’t expect a dead heat three weeks before the election. The primary cause is the economy. Chambliss has weathered riling the base a number of times throughout his term. Georgia has also been a volatile state for U.S. Senators. Since the long runs of Sam Nunn and Herman Talmadge, no senator has been elected to more than one term.
Polls are difficult this year because no one really knows what the Obama effect will be or if there will be one at all. Polls are more inaccurate than ever because the voter pool is getting harder to reach in this tech savvy age. Home phones are becoming a thing of the past. But, this time, it’s “the economy, stupid,” and the polls are reflecting the unhappiness with how the economy is right now. Rep. Jim Marshall — a Democrat — is paying a price for his vote for the bailout also.
The Chambliss campaign is not missing a beat. They’ll hit 70 counties in two weeks, talk to the media, and talk to the voters even more. On Monday, the VFW-PAC endorsed Chambliss and, in a pro-military state like Georgia, it’s a plus he was endorsed over Martin, who was a Vietnam veteran.
Kate Hansen, Press Secretary for Jim Martin’s campaign, said, “These polls confirm what we’ve been hearing from middle class Georgians all across the state who are fed up with Saxby Economics. They are being hit hard by the failed economic policies of the Bush Administration that Saxby Chambliss has supported every step of the way and they’re turning to Jim to stand up for their needs in the Senate. Saxby should have been looking out for Georgia families instead of turning a blind eye to the problems in our economy and voters are telling him so.”
The stakes are high for every contested race; Republicans cannot afford to lose a “safe” contest like the Georgia senate race. Preserving a strong minority is imperative whether McCain or Obama is the next President of the United States. If Obama wins, then the Republican minority in the Senate is the only “hope” we won’t “change” into a socialist form of government in practice. If McCain wins, the Republican minority in the Senate is the only tool McCain will have to further any conservative agenda. Either way, it will be a tough road, but without a “cloture proof” minority, dark days are ahead for America, making the last three weeks seem like a fraternity party.
If Barry Obama is elected president and has 58 or more Democrat Senators, these will have been the good old days. He will take this country to the left in a way we have never seen. We already have the farthest left government in practice in the history of this country. His supporters are leftists, his fund raisers are leftists, and they will want payback. Barack Obama isn’t strong enough to fight them.
There is too much at stake to let Chambliss or McCain lose. It’s time for Republicans to show ACORN how getting out the vote is done — legitimately.