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Georgia Senate Race to Test GOP

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Broun is the only announced member running in the race to succeed Chambliss. But some GOP operatives worry he is too conservative to win in the general.

In a statement, Price spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael said the representative was “humbled” by the support he has received for a Senate run. “At the same time, he takes seriously the calling of public service and plans to fulfill the duties entrusted to him as Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee,” she said.

Price, the former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, could perhaps best hew the line between the establishment and conservative wings of the party. Insiders see him as someone who could get the job done in a rough-and-tumble primary.

“He’s hardworking, he’s smart, he’s coldblooded — he’ll do what it takes,” one unaligned Georgia GOP operative said. “The problem with him being reptilian is that he’s reptilian.”

Republicans view other members as better at the glad-handing, retail aspect of politics. One strength Kingston might bring to the race is his familiarity with the agricultural and military industries — big in the state — based on his tenure as a member of relevant committees.

“I’m doing due diligence, but I’m not ready to announce,” Kingston said Wednesday in a short phone interview.

Gingrey continues to seriously consider a run and is taking all the necessary steps to test the waters, one of his top aides said. Age may be a factor for the 70-year-old, as will his recent comment that former Rep. Todd Akin was “partly right” in his infamous remarks about “legitimate rape.” But he has the most money, and that matters.

A Graves aide said he is still considering a run, but the aide didn’t expect him to make a decision either way “anytime soon.”

The consensus among a number of Georgia Republican insiders, however, is that Graves, who was first elected in June 2010, will not mount a bid, instead keeping his powder dry for higher office in the future.

The vast majority of the GOP primary electorate lives north of Interstate 20, the highway that runs east to west through the state, bisecting metro Atlanta. That would give an early leg up to Gingrey and Price, whose districts are, respectively, northwest and north of Atlanta.

Kingston, who represents a swath of coastal and southern Georgia, brushed off the idea that geography would put him at a disadvantage.

“I have a pretty good stronghold in south Georgia, but I’m also an Athens boy,” he said, referring to the college town northeast of Atlanta, where he went to high school.

Broun’s district stretches east of Atlanta. He begins his race with some support from the most socially and fiscally conservative wing of the party. But he lacks one of the most important assets a candidate can have: a big war chest.

At the end of 2012, Gingrey had $1.9 million in cash on hand, Kingston had $988,000 and Price had $1.6 million. Broun had only $156,000.

And then there are the non-congressmen who might run.

“I’d be shocked — shocked — if there weren’t a tier-one non-congressional candidate who runs against Washington and who gets to the runoff,” a Republican strategist in the state said.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and Kelly L. Loeffler, co-owner of the Atlanta WNBA team and an executive a financial firm, are all considered potential top contenders.

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