Written by Tom Knighton
Friday morning, the website Politico broke the news that Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss was going to retire after his current term ends. While Chambliss had been saying he intended to run again for some time, speculation was still running that he was finished.
Georgia’s junior senator, Johnny Isakson, said the following in a statement emailed to media outlets shortly after the news broke:
“Saxby and I have been friends for 51 years and it has been my honor to serve alongside him in the U.S. House and in the U.S. Senate. We first met when we attended the University of Georgia together in the 1960s, and our wives – Julianne Chambliss and Dianne Isakson – happened to be sorority sisters at UGA. I have supported Saxby in every political race he’s run, and I’m grateful that he has done the same for me. Saxby is a true statesman who has worked tirelessly throughout his time in public life to represent the values and interests of Georgians. Our state and our country are better because of Saxby Chambliss. I will miss him dearly after 2014, but I look forward to working with him for two more years in the Senate to tackle the tough issues facing our county.”
The news was met in the House of Representatives with similar thoughts.
Rep. Sanford Bishop, who has worked closely with Chambliss on fighting sequestration and its effects on the Marine Corps Logistics Base, said the following:
“The announcement caught me by surprise. I will certainly miss working with him on a bipartisan basis on issues affecting Georgia and our nation such as agriculture, national defense, fiscal responsibility, and our economic recovery,” said Congressman Bishop. “Senator Chambliss is a thoughtful and courageous public servant who puts the good of the country before party politics. Having served with him as a colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives, having served as his Congressman, and having shared a warm personal relationship with Saxby and Julianne, Vivian and I respect his decision, extend our best wishes and look forward to working together for Georgians and the country during the remainder of his service.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Graves offered up his own thoughts in an email to media:
“Senator Chambliss’ decades of distinguished public service place him among the giants of Georgia politics. He has been a tireless advocate for Georgia and a respected expert on critical issues facing the nation. I will always be thankful for the senator’s mentorship and friendship, from the day I joined him on his bus tour during my first run for the State House through all the tough debates we’ve had in the years since. His leadership will be sorely missed in Washington, and Georgia’s public servants will look to Senator Chambliss as an example for many years to come.”
Rep. Paul Broun, from the 10th district here in Georgia, had this to say on his Facebook page:
Senator Chambliss has served the people of Georgia with both dignity and the utmost dedication for the better portion of two decades, it’s been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with him on many issues affecting our great state. As I have been prayerfully considering my own future, I commend Senator Chambliss for his role as a true citizen-legislator and his commitment to pass the torch to another who will fight to rein in taxes and government spending so our children and grandchildren can have a better future. I wish him and his family all the best in his retirement and many blessings to come. I’m sure I’ll be seeing my friend ‘between the hedges’ soon back at home.
Further reaction comes as political observers debate who will run for Chambliss’ seat. One early name that has surfaced is Austin Scott from the 8th district. As the news settles in, observers expect to see other Georgia Republicans throw their hats into the ring.
On the other side of the aisle, Chambliss retiring opens up what had been a safe Republican seat and makes it now a more competitive race, though any Democrat is likely to face an uphill battle in a Georgia known nationwide for it’s conservative leanings.