GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss to Retire from Congress

10:59 AM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
Saxby Chambliss (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss will announce Friday that he will retire from the U.S. Senate and not seek a third term next year.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Chambliss informed his staff this morning.

Chambliss was a member of the so-called "Gang of Six," a bipartisan group of senators that tried last year to forge an agreement on ways to reduce the debt.

Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga.,a member of the Tea Party Caucus, had been considering a challenge to Chambliss in a GOP primary.

Democrats say they will make taking the Georgia Senate seat a "priority" in the 2014 election cycle.

"Georgia will now offer Democrats one of our best pick-up opportunities of the cycle," said Guy Cecil, executive director of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee. "There are already several reports of the potential for a divisive primary that will push Republicans to the extreme right. Regardless, there's no question that the demographics of the state have changed and Democrats are gaining strength."

Chambliss, 69, was first elected to the Senate in 2002 after serving in the U.S. House for four terms. He defeated Democratic incumbent Max Cleland, a Vietnam veteran and triple amputee, in a bitter race. Chambliss took heat from Democrats -- and fellow Republicans such as John McCain -- for running a controversial ad against Cleland that included images of the Democrat, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam, called the ad "worse than disgraceful."

In 2008, Chambliss had a closer-than-expected fight against Democrat Jim Martin. Chambliss defeated Martin in a runoff because he did not have the votes to do so outright on election night.

More recently, Chambliss voted for the bill to avoid the "fiscal cliff." That deal has angered some conservatives because it raised taxes on couples making over $450,000.

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