The GOP is rolling out its big guns — including an appearance by Sen. John McCain — in an all-out bid to win a Georgia runoff election that may decide whether Democrats enjoy unfettered control of the U.S. Senate.
The Dec. 2 runoff pits incumbent Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss against Democrat Jim Martin, a Georgia attorney and Vietnam veteran. A Martin victory would put Democrats on the verge of attaining the 60-seat majority they need to stop any Republican filibuster of proposed legislation.
The Chambliss campaign announced late Monday that McCain will be the featured speaker at a 4:30 p.m. “victory rally” for Saxby Chambliss at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta on Thursday. Also, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to join Chambliss on the campaign trail as well, perhaps as early as Sunday.
The Chambliss campaign also has extended an invitation to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The GOP’s vice presidential nominee is attending the Republican governors’ conference Wednesday in Miami and has not yet said if she will make a campaign appearance for Chambliss in Georgia.
Late last week, Chambliss received a runoff endorsement from the Club for Growth PAC.
“It is clear that the Democrats would like nothing more than to jam higher taxes and bigger government down the throats of the American people,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “Making sure Senator Chambliss wins his Senate race will make it that much harder for the Democrats to achieve their goal.”
One potentially huge endorsement waiting in the wings would be that of President-elect Barack Obama. Martin has asked Obama to make an appearance with him, but pundits are divided whether Obama would risk taking time from the presidential transition process to do so.
On Nov. 4, Chambliss fell just short of the 50-percent margin that Georgia requires to win election to the Senate. Chambliss won 49.8 percent of the vote, to Martin’s 46.8 percent, triggering an automatic runoff.
A major wildcard in the race is Libertarian Allen Buckley, who earned 3.4 percent of the vote. Buckley has said he will throw his support to whichever candidate signs off on a 10-issue “commitment form” that pledges fiscal responsibility. Buckley had intended to release the list Monday, but now tells Newsmax he will submit his list to Martin and Chambliss on Wednesday.
Both parties are expected to pour millions of dollars into the campaigns. Observers believe turnout will be much lower than it was on Nov. 4, and Martin will need to stem any falloff among African-American voters.
Martin is linking himself closely with Obama, stating, “this race is going to be about helping President-elect Barack Obama get our economy back on track and making the economy work for the middle class again.”
Chambliss, on the other hand, is portraying the contest as Republicans’ last best chance of stopping a Democratic steam roller in Congress.
“I don’t have to tell you what will happen in our state if we don’t prevail,” Chambliss told the Republican caucus of Georgia’s House of Representatives yesterday.
State election officials are expected to formally certify the Nov. 4 results by Wednesday, at which point the runoff election will officially be underway.
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