Conservative blogger Erick Erickson is threatening to mount a primary challenge against Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss over his willingness to compromise on increasing federal revenue in a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, reported The Hill.
Chambliss said in an interview last week that he was more concerned with making the right choice for the country than sticking to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, which he signed before being elected to office.
“Back in December of 2008, I wrote that Chambliss found himself in a runoff because he sided with every bad compromise from immigration to energy to the farm bill to the bailouts,” Erickson, a Georgia native, told CNN. “Whether it is me or someone else, conservatives should make beating Saxby Chambliss their chief cause in primary season 2014.”
He said the only reason conservatives supported him when he ran for reelection that year was to prevent Democrats from achieving a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate.
In an interview with WMAZ-TV in Georgia, Chambliss was one of the first Republicans in Congress to dismiss concerns about violating Norquist’s pledge, saying “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
Tom Perdue, Chambliss’ top political strategist, said the senator isn’t thinking about politics right now because he’s focused on finding a way for the country to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“Some people don’t think Republicans should work with Democrats,” Perdue said. “But Saxby’s not going to stop trying to bring everyone to the table and solve this problem. You have the future of America staring you in the face right now, so that’s where Saxby’s head is. He’s not into the politics.”
Cook Political Report Editor Jennifer Duffy called Erickson’s threat “chest thumping,” and that despite Chambliss possibly being vulnerable, the blogger would still have an uphill battle creating name recognition and a platform that voters will favor over their current senator.
“His visibility would help him raise money, but he’d have the same challenge any other candidate has,” she said. “Nobody knows what kind of a primary candidate or general election candidate he’d turn out to be. I have to wonder whether he realizes that. I see this a lot — candidates like him think they’re well-known, that they have a built-in base, and then they get out there and realize it’s a lot harder than it looks.”
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