ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey plans to announce he’s running for the U.S. Senate today, according to two officials close to the campaign.
Gingrey, R-Marietta, will announce his decision at an event this morning in Augusta, the officials said, requesting anonymity because a formal announcement has yet to be made. A second event was planned for later today in Atlanta.
With the announcement, the 70-year-old conservative would become the second Republican congressman to enter what is expected to be a fiercely contested campaign for the U.S. Senate in Georgia in 2014. U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, earlier announced that he would not be seeking a third term, citing frustration with partisan gridlock.
“Congressman Gingrey has been seriously considering a run for Senate and tomorrow he will make a formal announcement,” spokeswoman Jen Talaber said, declining to say what the announcement will be.
Chambliss’ decision has set off a scramble among the state’s top Republicans. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, announced in February that he would be running for the seat. Other people believed to be weighing bids include Reps. Tom Price of Roswell and Jack Kingston of Savannah, and former Secretary of State Karen Handel. As the field for the Senate race grows, congressional hopefuls across the state will be looking to fill the vacated seats.
Gingrey, an OB-GYN who represents northwest Georgia, was first elected to Congress in 2002. He is expected to emphasize his roots across Georgia. He was born in Augusta and later went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta for his undergraduate studies before returning to Augusta to attend the Medical College of Georgia.
He then moved to Marietta to establish his practice and says on his website that he’s delivered more than 5,200 babies.
In recent weeks, he’s taken steps to mitigate comments he made earlier this year that former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin – who lost a U.S. Senate bid from Missouri last year – was “partly right” when he said women’s bodies can avoid pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” Gingrey called his own comments on rape and abortion “stupid,” according to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I made a very awkward attempt to explain the unexplainable,” Gingrey told the newspaper on March 11.
Gingrey is co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, formed to challenge President Obama’s health care overhaul. He also serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.