Why is there even a runoff race in Georgia? Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is running against Democratic candidate Jim Martin. The incumbent Chambliss did not get the 50% plus one vote to avoid the runoff.
John McCain handily won the state of Georgia by a 52% to 46% percent margin. One would think that Senator Saxby Chambliss would have been able to run on McCain-Palin’s coattails and win just as easily.
Martin was born in 1945 in Atlanta, went through the Atlanta public schools, attended the University of Georgia and served two years in Viet Nam.
Martin received a bachelor’s degree and two law degrees and served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1983 to 2002. He was appointed Commissioner of Human Resources by Governor Roy Barnes in 2002 (relinquishing his House seat to do so). He resigned in 2003 and worked as the Chief Legal Officer of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council from 2004 to 2005. He ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2006, losing to his Republican rival. He then served as an Executive Fellow at the Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies from 2007 to 2008.
Chambliss was born in 1943 in Warrenton, NC, went to school in Louisiana, attended the University of Georgia (where he first met Martin) and got several deferments keeping him out of Viet Nam.
Chambliss went into law after college and then was elected to the House of Representatives, serving from 1995 to 2003. He has been in his current Senate seat since 2003. While in the House he chaired the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He is currently a member of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. And in the 109th Congress, he chaired the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which he is currently the Ranking Republican member. He is the only Senator since 1947 to have chaired such a committee with only two years in the Senate. (His previous experience in the House, no doubt, came into play here.)
Controversy, however, seems to follow Senator Chambliss, as it often does many career politicians.
His son is a lobbyist for Chicago Mercantile Exchange and lobbies on trading issues that fall under legislative jurisdiction of a Senate committee of which his father is a member. The Senate enacted a policy that states the younger Chambliss cannot lobby his father or the Senator’s staff.
Just after the attacks of 9/11, Chambliss, then the chair of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, stated that America’s security would best be served if the sheriff could “arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line.” He later apologized for the remark.
In his 2002 election run, he campaigned against a Viet Nam vet, Max Cleland, who had lost three limbs in the war with an attack ad that included Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. John McCain once said of this ad, “It’s worse than disgraceful, it’s reprehensible.” Yet McCain has campaigned for Chambliss to win his current re-election bid. Despite this controversy, Senator Chambliss one hands down (53% to 46%).
Chambliss has also been under scrutiny for possible harassment of victims of the Imperial Sugar factory explosion at their Savannah facility on Feb. 7, 2008. His Democratic opponents say he has harassed victims to keep them from suing Imperial Sugar, while his office has denied the allegations. He avoided a subpoena on the case by claiming “legislative immunity.”
But of his voting record, Chambliss has been a staunch conservative on such issues as abortion (receiving a 100% rating from Pro-life agencies and a 0% from pro-choice groups), 2nd Amendment rights (getting an A+ from the NRA), agricultural issues ( receiving the “Friend of the Farm Bureau” award the American Farm Bureau). He has also been bipartisan at times, such as his endorsement of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the 2007 farm Bill and the immigration reform bill.
So why is there a runoff in Georgia during this highly contested election cycle? Mostly because of third party Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley receiving over 3% of the vote.
According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Chambliss has a 51% to 46% lead on Martin, with 3% still undecided. DailyKOS shows the race to be tight as well, with only 3% points difference.
What will be key to the outcome will be how much voter turnout there is and just how much voters understand what is at stake. Despite the affability or controversy surrounding the candidates, this runoff is about political control of the Senate. If Democratic challenger Al Franken wins in Minnesota and Martin wins in Georgia, the Senate will have a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority. With the Democrats in control of the Senate, House, and White House, there is no voice for dissension, no conservative balance to liberalism; in essence, no checks and balances which the government was founded upon. And from the Legislative and Executive branches, they can influence the Judicial branch as well.
This means that anything the Democrats want to do can be done with no oversight. They can enact any tax policy, any social policy, any policy at all without hindrance. Even if the American public doesn’t want it to happen, there is no way for their voice to be heard. Imagine if the government decides a tax hike is necessary, despite their promises no to raise them. You can have a hundred million Americans rise up and say “NO!” Without the ability to stop them, they can do as they please. This is why no government should ever have a “super majority,” as the pundits call it.
Wikipedia (Saxby Chambliss)
Wikipedia (Jim Martin)
Daily KOS: State of the Nation