The PJ Tatler

Sen. Chambliss Says Retirement Isn't About Primary Challenge

On the target list of some conservatives in 2014, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) announced today he would retire at the end of his term.

The 69-year-old senator has served a decade in the upper chamber. Before that, he served from 1995-2003 in the House.

In a lengthy statement, Chambliss said his decision is one he and his wife “thought through and prayed about for many weeks,” and said he is proud of his conservative voting record during his terms.

“In 2008, I was honored to receive more votes than any other statewide elected official in the history of Georgia. Lest anyone think this decision is about a primary challenge, I have no doubt that had I decided to be a candidate, I would have won re-election,” Chambliss declared. “In these difficult political times, I am fortunate to have actually broadened my support around the state and the nation due to the stances I have taken.”

“Instead, this is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health. The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon. For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy,” he continued.

“I never intended to come to Washington and stay for 20 years. But in that time, I have been proud to fight for the economic good of Georgia and the security of our nation. That includes work on four farm bills, 18 defense-authorization bills, chairmanship of the House Terrorism Subcommittee in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and being chairman or ranking member of major Senate committees for 8 of the past 10 years. Perhaps the greatest honor has been to champion our men and women in uniform, their families, and the Georgia military bases and contractors who create private-sector jobs.”’ retirement clears the way for Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who has been considering a run.

“I join my fellow Georgians in deep appreciation for Saxby Chambliss’s extensive service to our great state and nation,” Price said in a statement today. “Since 1995, he has answered the call to public service, first as a member of Congress, and later, as a member of the Senate. Betty and I wish Saxby and his wife, Julianne, the very best. I am proud to call him a friend.”

Georgia’s other senator, Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), reflected on his friendship with Chambliss that has spanned more than five decades.

“I have supported Saxby in every political race he’s run, and I’m grateful that he has done the same for me. Saxby is a true statesman who has worked tirelessly throughout his time in public life to represent the values and interests of Georgians,” Isakson said. “Our state and our country are better because of Saxby Chambliss. I will miss him dearly after 2014, but I look forward to working with him for two more years in the Senate to tackle the tough issues facing our county.”

Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer said on CNN earlier this month that Chambliss was “going to be primaried.”

“It’s unacceptable to have somebody who votes with the Democrats more than they do with the conservatives, and he has proven time and time again he’s all about the spending,” she said after he voted for the fiscal cliff legislation that only five Senate Republicans voted against.

Chambliss has a 92.5 percent rating from the American Conservative Union.