The latest numbers in the still-forming GOP primary contest to replace Saxby Chambliss, released today by Public Policy Polling (PPP), show Rep. Jack Kingston tied with former Secretary of State Karen Handel at 15 percent. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle is just behind with 13 percent, followed by Reps. Phil Gingrey at 12, Paul Broun at 11, Tom Price at 10 and Tom Graves at 3.
Undecided leads the field with 20 percent.
Broun remains the only formally announced entrant, with Kingston having stated he intends to pursue the seat yet stopping short of an official announcement last Saturday.
Tom Price, once thought of as an all but certain entrant into the field, recently announced that he would be delaying a decision until May. The move has prompted some quarters to question whether or not he still intends to mount a bid.
After word initially spread that his camp had put a poll in the field to test his viability in the contest, Cagle has largely been silent on any potential interest in replacing Chambliss, saying his focus was on his role presiding over the state Senate. Gingrey has stated that he is taking a hard look at the contest, while Graves has express no interest in moving to a statewide bid following his election to Congress in 2010.
Most also consider it unlikely that Handel and Price would find themselves in the same field. Without Handel in the field, PPP’s poll showed that Phil Gingrey would lead Kingston 24-18 percent, followed by 15 percent of respondents backing Broun and 14 percent choosing Price.
On the other hand, Handel would trail Gingrey by 1 percent, 22-21, with Kingston again at 18 percent and Broun at 14.
The survey of 602 Georgia voters and 366 GOP primary voters did not test hypothetical matchups in a Democratic primary. However, three names were tested against Republicans Price, Kingston, Gingrey, Broun and Handel.
Former Senator Max Cleland appears to be the most formidable in a General Election, “up 1 against Price, 3 against Kingston, 5 against Gingrey, and 7 against Broun and Handel.” He was defeated by the retiring Chambliss in 2002, but has given no indication that he intends to return to the public eye as a candidate for office.
Barrow would start out leading both Gingrey and Handel by a single percentage point whilst deadlocked with Broun and on the flip side of that single point against Price. In a duel of South Georgians, Barrow would trail Kingston by 3 percentage points.
The Blue Dog congressman has previously stated that he has “no plans” to move to a statewide contest. His congressional seat has already been named as one of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s top targets for 2014.
State Senator Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, would begin trailing any Republican opponent by an average of 3.8 percentage points, trailing Broun by just 2 and Kingston by a more substantial 6.
Carter, too, has given no indication that he plans to pursue the seat.