Rep. Tom PriceFor the unforeseeable future, it’s the Paul Broun Show in Georgia.

The outspoken conservative announced last week he would campaign for the state’s GOP Senate nomination, but his entrance sparked no sudden movements from any of the host of other Republicans considering the race.

Public overtures by the party’s top possible recruits have become so subdued in the last week that one, Rep. Tom Price, said Monday he would not arrive at a final decision on the race until May, citing his responsibilities as vice chairman of the House Budget Committee.

In a lengthy statement, Price said his fundraising and internal polling revealed a “clear path to victory” but his immediate concentration was on the resolving the nation’s debt and deficit crisis.

“Too often, elected officials look toward the next rung on the ladder instead of the task at hand,” Price said. “In the weeks to come, by demonstrating effective leadership, I will be focused on fulfilling the job I was elected to do.”

He said a scramble to enter the nominating contest would be “distracting and unwise.”

“The election of Georgia’s next senator is 21 months away and there is plenty of time for campaigning,” he said. “To announce a decision prior to the completion of the work on the debt ceiling and critical fiscal policy in May 2013 would be distracting and unwise.”

Price was widely considered by state and national Republicans to be a virtual certainty in the race.

With the support of influential GOP figures, including the party’s most recent vice presidential nominee, and the second-largest war chest of any Republican in the state, he has the profile and constituency to spook other would-be contenders/

But Price has soft-pedaled the expectation he would run, triggering speculation among some Republican party donors he is casually withdrawing from contention altogether.

A well-placed Republican operative with knowledge of Price’s operation, however, said any reading the leaves some seventeen months from the primary election was wildly premature.

“Does raising $300,000 in less than two weeks sound like someone who’s withdrawing from contention?” the source, who asked to remain anonymous to speak candidly, asked. “I know it’s unusual, but could it be possibly that there is an individual who is actually committed to the job he has and will uphold the responsibilities he has in his current position before satiating potential political ambitions?”

– James Richardson