Local Republicans were reveling Wednesday after Tuesday's election that ousted Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Cleland and state Sen. Charles Walker Sr. and deprived Mr. Walker's son of a seat in Congress.
That 12th Congressional District seat that some say was designed for Charles "Champ" Walker Jr. went to Republican Max Burns, a professor and Screven County framer.
Republican U.S. Sen.-elect Saxby Chambliss and Mr. Burns were literally flying high Tuesday, landing just long enough in key cities such as Augusta to thank supporters and reaffirm pledges to party principles.
"Where's my senator? Where's Randy Hall?" Mr. Burns asked as he arrived at the Richmond County Municipal Building on Wednesday.
"Unbelievable," he said as Mr. Hall stepped forward and the two embraced.
Mr. Hall, a political newcomer who few thought stood a chance against the elder Mr. Walker, the powerful Senate majority leader, pulled off an upset victory to win the 22nd District Senate seat by a narrow margin.
"I'm starting today to serve the people of the 12th District," Mr. Burns told the crowd of jubilant Republicans. "I'm going to work on important things like jobs and the economy."
Retired Augusta banker Monty Osteen predicted Mr. Burns would be a "great congressman."
"Things were in turmoil after that fellow in Burke County dropped out," he said. "But everything happens for the best. We got the best."
Burke County farmer Cleve Mobley dropped out of the race in May, saying he decided not to run because his past mistakes were being exploited by political foes.
Mr. Burns defeated Barbara Dooley, the wife of University of Georgia Athletic Director Vince Dooley, in the August Republican primary.
Later Tuesday, Mr. Chambliss arrived at Bush Field to be greeted by much of the same crowd who had cheered Mr. Burns two hours earlier.
After exhorting them to "turn out in droves" in support of Mayor Bob Young in his runoff with former Augusta mayor Ed McIntyre in three weeks, Mr. Chambliss predicted the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will now act on homeland security.
"I had a great conversation with the president last night," he said. "He called to congratulate us. He said, 'You were my go-to guy in the House on the Homeland Security Bill. We got it passed in the House. Now with you being over in the Senate, we're going to have a department of homeland security."'
Republicans plan to work on energizing the economy, putting people back to work, increasing consumer confidence and providing tax incentives to businesses, Mr. Chambliss said.
"We look forward to making the Bush tax cuts permanent, eliminate the death tax, eliminate the capital gains tax," he said to applause.
Mr. Chambliss said there were two messages in Tuesday's election in Georgia.
"I think people are tired of good ol' boy politics," he said. "And that's what we were seeing in Roy Barnes and folks like Charles Walker and Tom Murphy."
Decisions that Democrats in Atlanta made in a "pure partisan atmosphere," such as redistricting, made people realize the state needed new faces, he said.
"I think the other message was that Georgia is a very progressive state," Mr. Chambliss said. "We're the leader in the Southeast from an economic standpoint. We're the leader from a transportation standpoint. We're a leader from a banking standpoint. The only area we don't lead in is in the political arena."
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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