U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey will formally announce a bid for Georgia’s Republican Senate nomination to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a well-placed GOP strategist has confirmed.
A Republican with knowledge of Gingrey’s plans told Tipsheet the congressman, now in his sixth term in the House, would file a federal statement of candidacy Wednesday to run for Senate.
The Marietta Republican will chase the paperwork with a pair of kickoff events in Atlanta and Augusta, the first measure of how well the 70-year-old lawmaker will endure the physical rigors of a long primary.
Gingrey will be only the second candidate to enter the Republican contest, still 16 months out, and square off with outspoken conservative Rep. Paul Broun. Other possible GOP recruits include Reps. Jack Kingston and Tom Price.
Whatever the final composition, the primary will be a closely-watched affair by national Republicans concerned with the race’s more and most conservative dynamic.
The rightward drag was apparent last week when the once-uniform Georgia delegation frayed over the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin wonk who Republicans nominated last year as vice president.
Days before the vote, Broun argued the budget was insufficiently conservative, even as Democrats complained it was maniacally austere. At the same time, Gingrey praised the proposal for reducing spending and reforming entitlement programs.
But when a vote was called by House leadership, Broun was not the lone Georgia dissenter. Gingrey, too, voted against the measure, later saying he found it unacceptable because it did not defund the Affordable Care Act. Both Price and Kingston voted for the bill.
Asked whether his vote may have been informed by the position of a likely rival, Gingrey’s spokeswoman said the congressman “has been consistently conservative in his voting record, regardless of how Paul Broun or anyone else votes.”
Whether his right flank is vulnerable to an attack by Broun or not, Gingrey will have the resources to wage an aggressive campaign with a robust television component, campaign sources say.
According to the most recent federal campaign filings, Gingrey’s war chest is fully twelve times larger than what Broun has amassed. While Broun must initially scrape by with little more than $155,000, Gingrey has banked north of $1.8 million.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported of Gingrey’s intention to announce.
– James Richardson