Democrats Fail to Entice Nunn Into Senate Race
Handing Democrats their latest recruiting setback in Georgia, Michelle Nunn announced Friday that she will not run for Senate in 2004.
Her decision leaves the party without a major candidate in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D) with only a year to go until the election.
“After much deliberation over the last few weeks, I have decided not to enter the race,” Nunn said in a statement. “This has been a very difficult choice because I believe that our state and nation are ready for a positive and moderate voice focused on pragmatic and creative solutions.”
Nunn also said she believes the Senate race is winnable for Democrats, and she added that her decision was a purely personal one.
“In the next few years I believe that my primary focus is best directed toward my 11 month-old son and family,” she said.
Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), is president and CEO of CityCares, an Atlanta-based community service organization.
While she won’t seek the Senate seat now, Nunn did leave the door open to running for office in the future.
“I hope that I have another opportunity in the future to consider serving the people of Georgia through elected office,” the statement read.
Nunn becomes the latest in a long line of potential Democratic contenders who have turned down entreaties from the state and national parties to run for the Georgia seat, among them Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox and state Attorney General Thurbert Baker.
Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, also a one-time Congressman and U.N. ambassador, appeared set to run but he changed course and decided against a bid in early October.
Seeking to put the Nunn decision in the best light possible, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee argued that the party is engaged in a “much more collegial process” to select its candidate than the Republicans, who face a four-way primary.
“We’ve got a challenge,” admitted DSCC spokesman Brad Woodhouse. “But we will field a competitive candidate in the state of Georgia.”
Among the Democrats still considering the race are Rep. Jim Marshall and trial lawyer Jim Butler.
Marshall, a former mayor of Macon who was elected with 51 percent of the vote in 2002, underwent surgery for prostate cancer earlier this month.
Some Democrats in the Senate have been pushing former Sen. Max Cleland, who was defeated for re-election last year, to enter the race. However, Cleland has given no indications he is willing to hit the campaign trail again.
On the Republican side, Reps. Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins, as well as Godfather’s Pizza tycoon Herman Cain and businessman Al Bartell, are in the race.