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Deal on top with Chambliss retirement

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Georgia Governor Nathan DealIn Georgia, it’s open season. 

The decision Friday by Sen. Saxby Chambliss not to seek reelection has necessarily nudged every member of the Republican congressional delegation and most statewide elected officers to weigh the prospect of a primary campaign.

Reps. Tom Price, Lynn Westmoreland and Paul Broun are rumored to be seriously considering the race. Party sources also believe banker and philanthropist Frank Hanna III is contemplating a self-financed campaign.

But even as the field remains tremendously muddled and the frontrunner long from established, the political fortunes of one Georgia Republican did improve.

The state’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, is also up for reelection next year. Despite his majority approval–he was most recently clocked at a 55% approval this week–some considered him vulnerable to a primary challenge from Rep. Price.

Now, back benchers anxious for a promotion will invest that energy and venom into an open, it still crowded, primary.

Jay Morgan, a one-time Georgia Republican Party executive director and Deal confidant, said party resources would be consumed by a Senate primary, leaving the governor to coast to reelection barring serious, unexpected Democratic opposition.

“The big winner today is Gov. Nathan Deal,” Morgan told Tipsheet in an email. “The set of chain events that will now transpire will adversely affect anyone’s plans to mount and finance a statewide race for Governor.  The interest and the money will be focused on who succeeds Senator Chambliss and all those who give up their safe seats in the process.”

- James Richardson