Less than an hour after Sen. Saxby Chambliss‚??s (R-Ga.) surprise announcement that he would not seek a third term next year, there was one name on the lips of most conservative activists in the Peach State: Tom Price.
Less than a month after he lost a bid for chairman of the House Republican Conference, five-term Rep. and physician Price (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 97.60 percent) has a fresh opportunity to move up. Where Chambliss disappointed conservatives with his role as part of the ‚??Gang of Six‚?Ě seeking compromise with the White House on spending and taxation and faithful votes for the Farm Bill, Price is an across-the-board conservative and favorite of the tea party.
The other most-heard name among Georgia Republicans was that of Karen Handel, former secretary of state and loser to present Gov. Nathan Deal in the 2010 GOP runoff for governor.
‚??My problem with Karen was the way she dealt with controversy,‚?Ě former Georgia GOP National Committeewoman Carolyn Meadows, a veteran conservative activist, told Human Events. ‚??She at first denied writing a check to the Log Cabin Republicans and then they produced the canceled check. My problem was not so much in her doing it but trying to deny it.‚?Ě
Handel did have the backing of Sarah Palin in that race. But narrow winner Deal had the support of Mike Huckabee, Eagle Forum‚??s Phyllis Schlafly, the National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union.
There was also some talk of Herman Cain, Georgian and former presidential candidate, running a decade after he lost a primary bid for the state‚??s other Senate seat. But Cain recently signed on to replace Neil Boortz on his popular Atlanta-based radio show and is not likely to shift gears for a new campaign.
In contrast to the way Georgia was less than 20 years ago, it is now the Republican primary and not the Democratic race that is tantamount to election. Except for incumbents, no Democrat has won statewide in Georgia since 1998.