GOP Rallies Leaders To Help Keep Ga. Senate Seat

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/96945391/96945372" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript
Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss (left) and Sen. John Ensign. i

Republican incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss (left) speaks Wednesday at his campaign headquarters in Atlanta, along with Sen. John Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Kathy Lohr/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Kathy Lohr/NPR
Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss (left) and Sen. John Ensign.

Republican incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss (left) speaks Wednesday at his campaign headquarters in Atlanta, along with Sen. John Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Kathy Lohr/NPR
Democratic Senate hopeful Jim Martin and his wife, Joan. i

Democratic Senate hopeful Jim Martin and his wife, Joan, on a tour of Georgia during the week before the general election. Kathy Lohr/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Kathy Lohr/NPR
Democratic Senate hopeful Jim Martin and his wife, Joan.

Democratic Senate hopeful Jim Martin and his wife, Joan, on a tour of Georgia during the week before the general election.

Kathy Lohr/NPR

Georgia's Senate race is one of three in the nation that remain undecided. Incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss did not win enough votes to avoid a runoff election, so the campaigning continues. To help Chambliss, Sen. John McCain heads to Georgia on Thursday.

Democrats now hold 57 seats in the U.S. Senate, and they'd like to add another. Republicans desperately want to hang on to this Georgia seat, so they're upping the ante in an effort to solidify support.

This week, Chambliss asked some 100 state Republican legislators for their help.

"From the standpoint of turning out the vote, it's critically important that we have a commitment from each of you to make sure that in your respective districts that we are seeing the largest turnout that we've ever seen," he said.

Chambliss was about 8,000 votes short of a majority in the general election. His Democratic opponent, Jim Martin, got about 47 percent, and a Libertarian candidate took 3 percent to force the Dec. 2 runoff.

"I don't have to tell you what will happen in our state if we don't prevail," Chambliss said.

Sen. John Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, says Chambliss is part of a firewall that will protect conservative interests.

"With Barack Obama as our president-elect, with them at least getting 57 votes [and] potentially getting 60 votes in the U.S. Senate, if this race is lost, there will be no check on the liberal policies that the Democrats can bring to Washington, D.C.," Ensign said.

The party is bringing in McCain, who won Georgia, for a rally Thursday afternoon, and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is scheduled to visit this weekend. National Republicans are also running a Web ad called "It all comes down to Georgia."

The ad warns that with Barack Obama in the White House and Democrats expanding their majorities in the House and Senate, a win for Martin would put Democrats "that much closer to 60 in the Senate, and at 60 they can do just about anything they want."

Martin is running his own ad, which also focuses on Obama: "Jim Martin has worked to do what's right for our country. He served his country in Vietnam. He helped pass the biggest middle-class tax cut in Georgia history. Now Jim Martin will work with Barack Obama to get our economy moving again."

This week, Martin showed up at Atlanta's Veterans Day parade downtown, where military schools, National Guard members and veterans of every branch marched in the cold. The Democrat stopped to greet some of them.

He says he'll represent the middle class and work to turn around the failing economy.

"Truth be told, Barack Obama set the tone after he won the election. We need to reach out to Republicans and Democrats to solve these problems, and I am perfectly prepared to do that," Martin said.

Martin has invited the president-elect to come to town. There's no word yet whether that will happen. Martin is downplaying the national Republican presence, saying the runoff is about Georgia voters.

Each side has accused the other of trying to buy the race, as the national parties are expected to spend millions more on this campaign. The outcome will depend on which one can get more of its base to go to the polls a second time.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.