3 open Ga. congressional races dominated by GOP

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SAVANNAH, Ga. — With three U.S. House seats in Georgia wide open in 2014, the chance to go to Washington is already attracting a crowd of several state legislators, a minister, a surgeon, a political novice and an ex-congressman seeking a comeback. So far, not one is a Democrat.

So far there are 16 Republicans who have launched campaigns to replace the trio of incumbent congressmen – GOP Reps. Paul Broun of Athens, Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Jack Kingston of Savannah – who are leaving the comfort of their districts for a shot at succeeding retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Before he stepped aside recently, Georgia Democratic chairman Mike Berlon said he was focused on winning statewide races rather than congressional contests in districts drawn to ensure Republican victories. Some Democrats favor waiting several years until demographic shifts in Georgia boost the number of black, Latino and young voters in the state to give Democrats an edge. Others, like Clarke County Democratic chairman-elect Russell Edwards, aren’t buying that strategy.

“I think it’s foolish,” said Edwards, who’s looking to recruit a Democratic candidate for Broun’s seat. “The reason a political party exists is to run candidates for office.”

Primary elections are more than a year away, meaning there’s plenty of time for Democrats to jump in. But the rush by Republicans to get in the game early while Democrats stay on the sidelines just underscores the big advantage the GOP has to win each of those seats, even without incumbents defending them.

Each district was drawn in the Legislature after the 2010 Census to give Republican candidates an edge, giving established Democrats little incentive to fight for them. And Republican gains over the last decade have eroded the ranks of elected Democrats in state and local offices who would be obvious choices to run.

Tony Center of Savannah, a Chatham County commissioner and former county Democratic Party chairman, said he doubts any Democratic officeholders will risk their positions by running for the congressional seat Kingston is leaving after 20 years.

“The Democratic bench here is very, very thin and that’s the way it is statewide, too,” Center said. “I would love to be a member of the U.S. House, but I’m happy as a county commissioner. I don’t want to resign as a commissioner to run in a race like this.”

Meanwhile, five Republicans have already announced for the 1st District race in southeast Georgia barely a month after Kingston kicked off his Senate campaign.

Buddy Carter, a pharmacist elected to the state Senate in 2009, said he expects Democrats will find a candidate and hope to take advantage of what will be an expensive – and possibly bruising – primary campaign for the GOP.

“I don’t think anyone will concede it just to the Republican Party,” Carter said.

In metro Atlanta’s 11th District, Gingrey won re-election in 2012 by a whopping 35 percentage points. Five Republicans are now competing for the seat.

With so many Republicans in the race, potential Democratic challengers are barely on the candidates’ radar at this point.

“I often joke that the Democrats are the American League and we’re the National League and I don’t worry about them until October,” Lindsey said.

Loudermilk said any of three open seats are simply “not a wise investment” for a serious Democrat.

“In this district, it’s kind of hard to find a Democrat anymore anyhow,” Loudermilk said.

Ironically, Democrats might have a tougher time recruiting a candidate for northeast Georgia’s 10th District seat now that Broun isn’t seeking re-election. During his more than five years in office, Broun has compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler and denounced evolution and the Big Bang theory as “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Such statements helped motivate challengers from heavily Democratic Athens.

“He in and of himself was definitely a recruitment tool for Democrats,” said Edwards, the Clarke County Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against Broun in 2010.

Six Republicans are already running to take Broun’s place. Edwards said it’s unlikely any current Democratic officeholders will seek Broun’s former seat in 2014. But he insists there’s value in recruiting a young, first-time candidate “who’s going to work tirelessly, raise money and has nothing to lose. And may even win a race.”

In Savannah, Chatham County Democratic chairman Will Claiborne noted that Kingston’s seat actually gained Democrat-leaning voters when it was redrawn in 2011, though both Kingston and Romney still easily won the district last year. Claiborne said he’s spoken with several potential Democratic candidates but “none of them are ready to declare yet.”

Edwards in Athens paused when asked if he’s heard of any Democrats seriously considering a race for Broun’s seat.

“I heard a name the other day,” he said. “It’s telling that I can’t remember it.”


On Jan. 25, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced he would not run for re-election.

So far, three Republican congressmen have announced plans to run for his seat. To do so, the men must vacate their current House seats:

For those three seats, 16 Republicans have already declared their intention to run:


• Michael Collins Jr., of Jackson, son of former Rep. Mac Collins

• State Rep. Donna Sheldon, of Dacula

• John Douglas, a Newton County commissioner

• Jody Hice, of Monroe, a minister

• Stephen Simpson, of Milledgeville, retired Army officer

• Gary Gerard, of Lexington, an attorney


• Former Rep. Bob Barr, of Marietta

• State Rep. Ed Lindsey, of Atlanta

• State Sen. Barry Loudermilk, of Cassville

• Tricia Pridemore, of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development

• Susan Davis, of Kennesaw


• State Sen. Buddy Carter, of Pooler

• State Sen. Jeff Chapman, of Brunswick

• David Schwarz, former Kingston aide

• Bob Johnson, a Savannah surgeon

• Darwin Carter, of Alma, former federal agriculture official

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Dixieman 06/17/13 - 04:32 am
Lots of talented Republicans

Democrats? Not so many.
Good for Georgia, good for the House of Representatives, good for the country.

Bodhisattva 06/17/13 - 05:55 am
Talented? I doubt it. In the

Talented? I doubt it. In the pockets of big businesses and corporations, claim to be "Christian" but care nothing about real people, will scream about cutting budgets but will howl if one dime comes out of the military or their district, and will support any program known to man and allow absolute powers under a GOP administration but disallow the same programs and powers under a Democratic one, that I'll believe. In other words, we'll swap on loon for another in all of the races. You know Georgia and the country is in bad shape when Bob Barr is the candidate that is the most qualified and the one who will do the least damage to the country and to the state of all of those listed.

soapy_725 06/17/13 - 07:43 am
Where is Down Home Lee Anderson?

Get out that tractor and ride.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 08:49 am
Long in Tooth

It's time to put Bob Barr out to pasture.

rmwhitley 06/17/13 - 09:26 am
Some of you

lefties still live with "Alice in Wonderland". If you don't know the truth ( which obviously you don't ) you make it up. They call that lying or living in a fantasy world. Your "leader" of America is more criminally inclined than Richard Nixon could have ever dreamed of being. Look at his cast of mobsters: i.r.s., clapper, holder, rangel, congressional black caucus, imanuel, clinton ( hitlery and billary ), doerner, davis, his boy in chicago teaching college after leading the murderous sds, et al. In obama's eyes, it's illegal to be white, conservative and heterosexual.

Darby 06/17/13 - 09:51 pm
"In the pockets of big businesses and


"You know Georgia and the country is in bad shape when Bob Barr is the candidate that is the most qualified...."


You know Bodhisattva is revealing his worst nightmares when he relies on the same old, same old, tired worn out claptrap about "big" business and evil "corporations". That and personal attacks and demonization of individuals.

What really should scare conservatives is the idea that one day Democrats/liberals may actually begin to think, reason and resort to logic.

When that day does arrive, if ever, we could be in a lot of trouble.

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