With support from 24 percent of past Republican Primary voters, former two-term Governor Sonny Perdue leads among the serious potential candidates who have not foreclosed the possibility of running for the Republican nomination for United State Senate in 2014 following the announcement by Senator Saxby Chambliss that he will not seek reelection.
Former Fulton County Commission Chair and Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel comes in second with 15 percent, reflecting a strong 2012 Gubernatorial campaign in which she came in first in the Republican Primary before losing the runoff to then-Congressman Nathan Deal.
Four Republican Congressmen, Paul Broun, Tom Graves, Tom Price, and Lynn Westmoreland hover in the range from six to ten percent; I’d guess any other incumbent GOP Congressman would score similarly.
The Gender Factor
The following table shows that sixty percent of Handel’s support comes from women, significantly higher than any other potential candidate, and nearly 64% of undecided respondents are women, showing some upside for Handel in a demographic that has been a weakness for the GOP lately. With an identical number of male respondents choosing Handel and Congressman Tom Price, whose geographic bases overlap, Handel’s lead over Price comes entirely from additional female votes.
At the same time, Governor Perdue’s strong lead overall means that he still attracts more votes from women overall.
Click here for a copy of the script and research methodology.
From Jim Galloway’s Political Insider:
Friends of former secretary of state Karen Handel tell us that Rob Simms, once her chief of staff – now a D.C. media consultant, wasn’t blowing smoke when he said Handel was considering a 2014 challenge to U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Handel, of course, has a statewide election under her belt – and came within a percentage point of beating Nathan Deal in the 2010 Republican runoff for governor. (She has a book to sell, too, but let us ignore that point.)
Price has never run statewide, but given that the largest portion of Georgia voters can be reached through the metro Atlanta media market, that’s less of a roadblock than it once was. The Roswell congressman also has $1.6 million in the bank – a sizable head start on any other would-be challenger to Chambliss.
What’s being ignored is the fact that Handel and [Congressman Tom] Price have a close political and geographic connection. Price was the only Republican member of Congress from Georgia to endorse Handel’s gubernatorial ambitions. (Both are thus unloved by the current governor.)
One will not run if the other does. So the more that you hear one of these two north Fulton figures talk about a U.S. Senate run, the less likely it is that the other is truly considering the contest.
It’s quite possible that Steve Oppenheimer, who raised $238k and took 43% of the vote against incumbent Republican Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, would be one of the strongest candidates for a Democratic nomination in 2014.
From Roll Call:
There’s no doubt national Democrats will have Georgia on their mind by the time the 2016 presidential race rolls around.
The state is more African-American, more Hispanic and more Democratic than it was at the beginning of the last decade. Eventually, insiders of both parties agree, it will be a swing state.
But looking ahead to 2014 — when Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Gov. Nathan Deal are up for re-election — Democrats don’t appear to have much of a bench lining up to run statewide.
Chambliss could face a tough primary challenge and potential Democratic candidates are keenly watching how that race develops over the next year. Beating Chambliss would be very hard; beating another Republican might be a less daunting endeavor.
In a conversation with Roll Call via Skype from a post-Election Day vacation, top Georgia Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson said that the path to a Senate victory for a Georgia Democratic senator in 2014 would be steep, though not impossible.
“Saxby is in a good position,” he said.
Johnson, who served as the national southern regional director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, said victory would require that Democrats get behind one candidate to avoid a bloody primary. He added that the candidate needs to appeal to a broad swath of Georgians.
“In order for us to even be competitive with Sen. Chambliss — who has gained a lot of national recognition, who will be well-financed and who knows how to campaign — we will have to recruit a candidate with a message that targets moderate conservatives,” Johnson said.
Among the names he floated: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Rep. John Barrow.
Reed, a business-friendly African-American Democrat, would probably be the strongest contender, but he appears very unlikely to run.
“Mayor Reed is running for re-election as Mayor of Atlanta in 2013 and if the people give him another four years, he plans to serve his term,” Reed spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs Dade said in a statement.