GA-Senate Runoff: Winners and Losers
Senate Democrats' dreams of a 60-seat filibuster proof majority were dashed down in Georgia yesterday as Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) won a convincing runoff victory over former state Rep. Jim Martin (D).
While Chambliss -- and Senate Republicans -- were the obvious winners, we here at The Fix aim to go beyond the headlines and bring you, gentle reader, the inside dope on the runoff election that was.
Our winners and losers from yesterday's vote are below. Agree or disagree with our picks? Have some of your own? The comments section awaits.
John Cornyn: The incoming chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee got a bit of good news as he looks at (another) tough electoral landscape in 2010. Had Chambliss lost Tuesday night, the "sky is falling" sentiment within the party would have run wild, making it tough for Cornyn to recruit top tier candidates and drive fundraising. Now the Texas senator has at least one good talking point to donors and prospects. His next task? Make sure retiring Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.) is the exception not the rule.
Barack Obama: There were some within the Democratic strategist set who argued that a visit to Georgia by the president-elect could put Martin over the top. The Obama inner circle resisted -- cutting a radio ad for Martin using its massive email list to help raise money for the Democrat but never broaching the possibility of a personal visit. Had Chambliss won by a point or two that decision would have been second-guessed; Chambliss' 14-point margin justified Obama's decision to stay out.
Mike Duncan: The Republican National Committee chairman, who is widely expected to seek a second term at the winter meeting early next year used the power of the committee to aid Chambliss and build up his own credentials. The RNC used more than 600,000 targeted banner ads to make sure GOP voters knew about the Dec. 2 runoff and to urge them to vote early. As a result, the percentage of Republicans voting early went from 35 percent in the general election to 52 percent in the runoff. Duncan was also quick on the trigger following Chambliss' win with a statement that asserted Georgia showed "that the Republican Party and our core conservative principles are alive and well."
Sarah Palin: While Chambliss' winning margin suggests he would have won whether or not Palin stumped for him on Monday, the Alaska governor's high profile swing through the state is sure to be cited by her backers as evidence of her political potency as talk of 2012 heats up.
The Runoff System: Repealed by Democrats during Gov. Roy Barnes's (D) tenure and re-instated by Republicans in the state legislature, the runoff rule is probably here to stay following Chambliss' convincing win last night.
Al Franken: With 60 seats for Democrats no longer a possibility, entertainer Al Franken's ongoing recount fight with Sen. Norm Coleman loses that much urgency in the eyes of national party strategists. Both sides acknowledge that Coleman is ahead at the moment although they differ widely on how many votes separate the two men. If Coleman stays ahead, the desire (and interest) in Franken's candidacy may well wane as both parties prepare for the coming Obama Administration and the 2010 elections.
Roy Barnes: There was some talk about supporters of the former governor that a win by Martin (or even a close loss) in the runoff would pave the way for a renaissance among Georgia Democrats that would culminate with Barnes running for the open governor's seat in 2010. Chambliss' strong victory reaffirms the fundamental Republican tilt of the state and forecloses, for the moment, any talk of a Democratic resurgence in 2010.
Jim Marshall: The Macon-area congressman was courted (and considered) a run against Chambliss but ultimately decided against it. Given how close Martin, an unknown former state legislator, came to knocking off Chambliss, it's clear that the GOP incumbent was ripe for the picking this year. Marshall's decision to take a pass on the race means that he will face a serious challenge every two years in his Republican-leaning 8th district and may not ever see the Senate.
December 3, 2008; 10:50 AM ET
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