Georgia: Westmoreland Expects Crowded GOP Senate Field

Westmoreland expects many of his House GOP colleagues to run for Senate in Georgia (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., expects a crowded field of contenders for retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss' seat — including some of his House colleagues.

Peach State Republicans have told CQ Roll Call they were hopeful to avoid multiple House members jumping into the race. But Westmoreland cautioned that probably won't be the case.

"I don't think you can keep all of 'em from running at once," he said in a Tuesday phone interview, less than 24 hours after announcing he would not seek the seat.

"Congressman [Phil] Gingrey is very much interested in it," he said, noting his colleague's significant $1.9 million war chest at the end of last year.

"I think Congressman [Jack] Kingston will run," Westmoreland said, emphasizing Kingston's close ties to the agriculture industry and how they could help in his bid.

"And then, you know, Paul Broun just feels led to run and he's going to get in," he said.

Westmoreland said he was unsure if GOP Rep. Tom Price would pull the trigger on a bid, but he expected to have a fuller sense of the field within a week. Price had $1.6 million in cash on hand on Dec. 31.

Westmoreland, who is the deputy chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that after discussion with his family and supporters, he decided to stay in the House, where he has accrued seniority.

As for the chance of a Democrat taking the Chambliss seat, he didn't seem too worried. "What I know about the Democratic bench: It's kinda' light," the congressman said. "The pickings are slim for 'em."

How much national Democrats get involved in the race, he said, depends on "what kind of battle the Republicans are going to have."