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Fear Thy Primary

Sen. Saxby Chambliss has decided to part company with Grover Norquist.  In so doing, he invites a primary challenge.  Representatives Paul Broun, Tom Price, and former secretary of state Karen Handel have all been maneuvering to oust Chambliss from his Senate seat in 2014.

Joshua Miller at CQ Roll Call reported on November 19 that conservatives just aren’t happy with Chambliss. Debbie Dooley, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, did not equivocate: “Senator Chambliss is not very popular among a lot of the conservative grass roots.”

Conservatives “don’t feel he’s as conservative as the base is,” said Virginia Galloway, the state director for the Georgia branch of Americans for Prosperity. “Sometimes when he sees himself being a statesman, conservatives see him as being a sellout.”

CQ roll call continued:

The crux of the base’s concern is Chambliss’ history of reaching across the aisle to work on solutions to issues such as immigration and federal debt. Another thing that rankled some of the base: his involvement in the bipartisan effort to come up with a solution to the debt ceiling crisis as part of the “gang of six.”

Chambliss will almost certainly have a primary challenger from the right. But over the next months, the decisive factor in determining his true vulnerability is whether a GOP congress member will run or whether Chambliss will face off against a less-formidable challenger.

Heck, even conservative blogger Erick Erickson considered challenging Chambliss, but decided to take a pass last week. Aaron Blake at The Washington Post listed four reasons why Chambliss is a vulnerable incumbent on November 30.

1. While it’s not clear who might have the wherewithal to challenge Graham, there are plenty of candidates ready to challenge Chambliss. Price and Broun both have very conservative records, and Handel, of course, has a statewide resume.

2. Chambliss had a weak showing in 2008. Despite being an incumbent, he ran a few points behind Sen. John McCarin (R-Ariz.) at the top of the ticket and actually needed to go to a runoff to keep his seat against Democrat Jim Martin, who wasn’t seen as a top-tier opponent. (Chambliss did beat Martin by double-digits in the runoff, for what it’s worth.)

3. He’s from South Georgia. Chambliss is from Moultrie, which is very far from Atlanta and from most of the state’s population centers. Thus, it seems logical that a candidate from the Atlanta area could beat him by regionalizing the race.

4. He’s got a tone problem. While Chambliss has got a largely conservative record, he’s hardly a conservative favorite. In fact, when it comes to the National Journal vote ratings, Chambliss has scored more conservative than Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) the last two years, and he was tied for the most conservative senator in 2010.

While I’m not so up in arms about him filing a petition for divorce from Grover Norquist, the reality that Chambliss unpalatable to the conservative grassroots is a problem.  The power of the incumbent is omnipresent in elections; but if he, or she, finds that their relationship with the grassroots is shaky – then they should either update their resumes or quickly get cozy with them.

Money is a powerful asset, but former Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) outspent his Republican challenger, Richard Mourdock, by a 3-to-1 margin and still lost the primary.  In fact, Lugar was shellacked.  This is what happens to representatives that anger or become disconnected with grassroots organizations.

Mr. Chambliss isn’t a conservative favorite. But to say that his conservatism poses a liability, as stated by Blake, is wrong.  Republicans should primary each other based on that notion.  However, if they have a history of selling out, or working too closely with the other side, then by all means initiate the purge.  We have an American party and a European one.  Bipartisanship is very overrated under these circumstances.

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Matt Vespa

I'm a staunch Republican and a politics junkie who was recently the Executive Director for the Dauphin County Republican Committee in Harrisburg. Before that, I interned with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania in the summer of 2011 and Mary Pat Christie, First Lady of NJ, within the Office of the Governor of NJ in 2010. I was responsible for updating his personal contact list. My first political internship was with Tom Kean Jr's. U.S. Senate campaign in 2006.

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One Comment

  1. The other day Fox News reported that at Sinclair Community College in Dayton a construction crew was forced to quit work until they removed their “Men Working” sign. It was too radically sexist to suit, you see.

    Rush confessed the other day that he often has a fantasy of purchasing an hour of prime time to deliver a major speech. However he failed to act when it might have made a difference before the election.

    A caller challenges Beck, the other day, to make peace with the other talk yakkers and deliver a solid front. Beck sort of talked around it, agreeing with the caller that there are massive egos involved. Regardless, the time for this particular action was before the election.

    My take on the situation is that we’re too close to the action to be able to see what’s happening. Almost.

    I think, in time, whoever is left will look back to see that Obama did indeed work his transformational change.

    Let me toss a nightmare “what if” at you. Suppose the congress had gone democrat. Where do you think we would be right now? On a swift glide slope to full blown socialism or communism with a golf playing dictator for life?

    Well, guess what? The forces that would make that scenario come true are in there this very minute. The only thing that retards their progressive progress is the fact that we narrowly own the congress.

    I believe that what we are witnessing is no less than the free fall toward unbridled socialism and there is blessed little that we can do about it. Why? Because the people are ready for it. And how is that?

    Two clues are the socialist media and socialist schools. But let me give you another.

    Not so many years ago Americans had at a max, four television choices. (Assuming there was a PBS station in the area.)

    If you sat down to watch the telly you WOULD rub shoulders with the news at some point during the day. Changing the channel wouldn’t help, because the news hour was across the three major networks. So, whether you liked it or not, you would be marginally informed.

    Then comes along the UHF channels followed by what we have today. The law of unintended consequences takes effect and nobody has to sit still for news any more. Thus, the dumbing down of America through television.

    On computers. For the last half dozen years computers have reached a plateau of sorts. If vectors are maintained, though, your trusty computer will look like a bleached dinosaur bone in the next ten years. Already computers are being replaced by smart phones which are getting smarter all the time.

    One of these days you’re going to see your local library close. Then all you’ll have for news is whatever the current regime says is news…and history.

    The world of today which you already hardly recognize is coming to a close. The world of tomorrow will be a lot more about Muslims, a permanent underclass, American Un-Exceptionalism, and a one party political system. The wrong party, by the way.

    Already, the grand old party (GOP) has transformed into the Democrat Party, and the Democrat Party has transformed into the American Communist Party.

    The only way out that I can see, and this by no means is a guarantee of success is that God will send a massive ionizing solar flare to brush the Van Allen Radiation belt to generate a flux to fry all the computers and cell phones of the land. That way, the country can have a restart and nobody will have time to worry over Men Working signs.

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