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Establishment Looks to Take Back GOP

Rumors were swirling over the weekend that former Gov. Sonny Perdue would take a crack at the Senate seat Saxby Chambliss is vacating next year. Ex-communications director Bert Brantley spent the weekend retweeting polls showing his old boss with an early lead in the Republican primary.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Perdue announced this morning that he wouldn’t run, according to the AJC, citing business and family obligations. But he made it clear that he’s had just about enough of this tea party nonsense, thank you very much.

“We have an opportunity… to prove to the country that we are the party that can rise above the dogma and intransigence that dominates political discourse today,” he said in a statement.

It’s becoming abundantly clear that mainstream Republicans are ready to take back their party from the tea-tossing crazies. For further evidence, consider Gov. Nathan Deal putting former Senate Majority Leader Chip “Agenda 21” Rogers in a corner.

Also consider Chambliss’ insistence that he was never worried about a right-wing primary challenge from the likes of Rep. Paul Broun or Tom Price (R-Roswell). 

“The one think I was totally confident of was my re-election,” he said during a news conference with Gang of Six BFF Mark Warner (D-VA) at UGA on Monday. That’s in spite of his reaching across the aisle on fiscal issues, once considered political suicide in deep-red Georgia.

After Chambliss and Warner spoke and before their news conference, influential local Republican officials—state Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville), Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis and Brian Brodrick, a Watkinsville city councilman and chairman of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce—as well as Athens-Clarke Manager Alan Reddish, standing in for Mayor Nancy Denson, trotted out to praise Chambliss for his bipartisan initiative. 

“I think we saw an example this morning of his willingness to tackle tough issues and to do it in a way that’s not always politically expedient,” Willams said.

With Perdue out, who will carry the mantle of the non-crazy GOP? Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is giving it some thought, according to Georgia Tipsheet, which cited WUAG 1340 AM host Martha Zoller. Cagle’s probably sick of herding cats in the state Senate, and he’d be the immediate frontrunner, given his statewide name recognition and base in the Republican bastion of Gainesville. The relatively moderate Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) is also in the mix. Sources say another oft-mentioned middle-of-the-road candidate, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, is definitely out.

If you really want to get deep in the weeds, Charlie Harper at Peach Pundit analyzed every potential candidate’s chances.