The Washington Post made a compelling argument that everyone should be paying attention to the 2014 Georgia U.S. Senate race:
A judge recently moved up Georgia’s Senate primary date. It might seem like a minor housekeeping adjustment, but it has the potential to leave a mark in the battle for the Senate.

Why? Because it could alter the way the Georgia Senate campaigns are run, change turnout models, and in the eyes of some Democrats, boost their chances of pulling an upset in the Peach State — all against the backdrop of a shrinking Senate map and a race for the majority that looks increasingly close.

First, some background on where things stand. District Court Judge Steve Jones ruled Thursday that Georgia’s federal primary date must be moved up to June 3 from its usual mid-July placement. The rationale is to allow enough time for military personnel and others living overseas to return their ballots, should a runoff election be triggered.

Under prior law, Georgia’s runoffs were slated for three weeks after the primary, a timetable at odds with a federal law requiring that military and overseas residents be given 45 days to return ballots. The Justice Department sued. And Jones ruled in its favor, deciding that an Aug. 5 runoff would follow a June 3 primary. - Washington Post, 7/17/13

With a crowded GOP primary looking to fill the seat of retiring Senator Saxby "Chicken Hawk" Chambliss (R. GA), a runoff is very likely.  The GOP primary between Congressmen Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston and former Komen Foundation V.P. and Secretary of State Karen Handel are going to tear each other a part in the primary.  Here's a few reasons why:

First there's the issue that's been in the news a lot lately; abortion:


The four Georgia Republicans who want to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss all call themselves conservatives who oppose abortion.

Two are congressmen who recently voted in favor of a House bill to outlaw nearly all abortions beyond the 20th week after conception. Another candidate, a former secretary of state with her own national profile in the abortion debate, expressed support for the measure. Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Broun, an obstetrician, voted against it, saying it didn't go far enough. That vote put him alongside abortion-rights advocates yet it garnered a de facto endorsement from a leading anti-abortion group in Georgia.

The divide exposes fault lines in an already divisive primary that some party figures worry could set up a repeat of 2012 losses in Missouri and Indiana, GOP-leaning states where Democrats successfully cast Republican Senate nominees as out of the mainstream based mostly on their views on abortion. - AP, 7/5/13

Congressmen Phil Gingrey & Jack Kingston voted for the bill but Congressman Paul Broun voted against it because it didn't go far enough:


The split has major implications for Georgia’s race for U.S. Senate. Broun is a major GOP contender. Another is former secretary of state Karen Handel, who has fought with Georgia Right To Life in the past. The organization has refused to certify her as a “pro-life” candidate because of her endorsement of the rape and incest exceptions to abortion regulation.

GRTL president Dan Becker, who has often tangled with Handel, this afternoon declared the federal legislation “hijacked.” From a just-arrived press release:

    “Children conceived by rape or incest are no different than any other child that feels the pain of the abortionists forceps,” Becker added.  “This bill now makes them something less—a subclass of human beings that can be painfully disposed and tossed in the garbage.”

Not mention this from Broun:

    “I am extremely disappointed that House Republican leadership chose to include language to subject some unborn children to needless pain and suffering. I will not support legislation that harms innocent children, and I will continue in my efforts to protect all unborn children by making abortion illegal at all stages of pregnancy.” - Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/18/13

Here's a little more insight:


Two contending, viable Republican candidates for an open U.S. Senate seat – Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey – are solidly in Todd “legitimate rape” Akin and Richard “God intended rape” Mourdock territory in terms of their potential to enrage voters who love women.

In the 2012 election in Missouri, Romney won the state and won roughly 2 out of 3 white voters. But in the Todd Akin-Claire McCaskill Senate race there, a third of white female Romney voters and a quarter of white male Romney voters crossed parties to vote for McCaskill. Joe Donnelly beat Richard Mourdock by six points after similarly stupid comments in Indiana. Romney won the state, but about one in six white male Romney voters crossed over to vote for Donnelly, as did about 22 percent of white female Romney voters. Obama lost Georgia by eight points in 2012.

Michelle Nunn is being presented as Kryptonite to a Paul Broun candidacy. The rationale is obvious: if an antiabortion madman wins the nomination, find the most powerful voice for women’s rights available. - Peach Pundit, 7/8/13
The Republican candidates are also divided over the farm bill:


In Georgia the vote was party-line, except when it came to the 2014 Senate Race to the Right: Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta was the only Georgian among 12 Republican "no" votes, no doubt pleasing the aforementioned groups. From spokeswoman Jen Talaber:
UNITED STATES - JUNE 12: Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to introduce border security legislation titled
   "The congressman voted against this legislation for the same reasons he did a few weeks ago. It contains no serious reforms or spending cuts and could ultimately extend these programs in perpetuity. This bill is a slippery slope to a conference report loaded with food stamps all over again."

Rep. Paul Broun of Athens missed the vote, as he had to catch a plane to a prior commitment, but surprisingly said he would have voted yes, in a statement from his office:

   “Although I was unable to vote for the FARRM bill due to prior commitments, I would have reluctantly voted yes for the bill to bring certainty to Georgia farmers and our nation’s agricultural industry. However, I remain concerned about the lack of serious spending cuts, meaningful reform to America’s farm policy, and the continuation of farm subsidies in this bill. As a Georgia farmer myself for many years, it is my hope that we can find a balanced approach to support our farmers while enacting responsible and cost effective reform."

Jack Kingston of Savannah remained a yes. His statement:

  “This bill provides our farmers, ranchers, and producers with the certainty they need to continue providing us with the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. ... We conservatives have fought for years to separate farm and nutrition policy. Passage of this bill is a success on that front but we cannot lose sight of the urgent need to reform our bloated food stamp program.” - Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/11/13
So yeah, these issues are going to cause the GOP candidates to tear each other a part and could cause the primary to be a long and nasty one that would lead to a run off.  And Karen Handel plans on running a dirty campaign:


The former secretary of state announced Monday that her campaign team would be led by the chief strategist of the 2004 Swift Boaters and the former campaign manager for Linda McMahon, the professional wrestling magnate.

Chris LaCivita, who will serve as Handel’s general consultant, worked with the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2004 and 2012. In 2004, LaCivita was also chief strategist in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization that targeted Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Corry Bliss, Handel’s campaign manager, ran McMahon’s 2012 U.S. Senate race in Connecticut. She lost to Democrat Clint Murphy. - Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/9/13

And it looks like Jack Kingston is the preferred candidate of the military industrial complex:


Top contractors are putting their money behind Republican Rep. Jack Kingston in a member-vs.-member battle that illustrates what’s become a defining high-wire act of the age of sequestration.

The congressman and other red-state Republicans are caught between a conservative base that demands a take-no-prisoners approach to governing and business-minded donors who want compromise over ideology.

Kingston’s contradictions sum up his predicament: He’s pushing a balanced-budget amendment but also claims there’s “a view that I’m the most pro-military member that there is.” - Politico, 7/18/13

Paul Broun is taking the repeal Obamacare message an extra step:


House Republicans need to do more than just vote to repeal portions of Obamacare and instead push to make sure the healthcare law is “ripped up by the roots” and replaced with a cheaper, more effective alternative, Rep. Paul Broun, told Newsmax.

“What we need to do though is repeal the whole law because it's a destroyer. It's going to destroy the quality of healthcare in America. It's destroying the doctor-patient relationship. It's going to short budgets from family budgets all the way up to the federal budget,” the Georgia Republican said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.

“We must pull it out by the roots and replace it with something that makes sense — something that will make sure that patients make decisions along with their doctors and Obamacare is not going to do that,” said Broun, a doctor who practiced family medicine. - Newsmax, 7/16/13

And Phil Gingrey... well, he's the "gender roles" candidate:


"Father knows best, and that traditional view we had back in the old days of television is different. It’s changed. And I do understand that. Of my three daughters and one daughter-in-law, they all work. They all work. Some of them full-time, some of them part-time. But they’re still there as moms, and when they come home and take over that responsibility, they need a shared partner. And that partner is that partner for life, and I’m talking about of course the father. And so I really appreciate the opportunity to be with my colleagues tonight and just say that maybe part of the problem is we need to go back into the schools at a very early age, maybe at the grade school level and have a class for the young girls and have a class for the young boys and say: This is what’s important. This is what a father does that’s maybe a little different, maybe a little bit better than the talents a mom has in a certain area. And same thing for the young girls, that this is what a mom does and this is what’s important from the standpoint of that union, which we call marriage." - Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/19/13

Hopefully we will be hearing Michelle Nunn (D), CEO of Points Of Light and daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn (D. GA), make her decision very soon:


Michelle Nunn shared a stage with a pair of presidents today in the East Room of the White House. She's saving the politicking for another day.

The CEO of Atlanta's Points of Light Foundation and possible Democratic U.S. Senate candidate suggested in an interview with the AJC that her White House appearance with Presidents Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush was the final big date on her calendar before serious campaign discussions commence.

"I have been telling folks that I was focused on this event and I was going to do some thinking about (the Senate race), and I’ll be talking about it shortly," Nunn said. "But I wanted to get through this event and focus on this." - Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/15/13

You can listen to Nunn's speech from the event here:

With Nunn as our candidate and with an early primary set, are odds of winning this seat are improving.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kos Georgia and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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