A congressional aide says Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia won't seek re-election to a third term.
The conservative lawmaker was first elected to the House in the 1994 Republican wave. He moved up to the Senate after a rough 2002 campaign in which he defeated Democratic incumbent Max Cleland, a triple amputee from his Vietnam war service.
The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak in advance of an official announcement.
Chambliss has been a GOP loyalist throughout his career, but he drew criticism from tea party Republicans for his participation in a bipartisan Senate "Gang of Six" focusing on the budget. The group advocated a mix of tax increases and spending cuts but failed to produce a bargain.
Chambliss released the following statement:
“After much contemplation and reflection, I have decided not to run for re-election to the Senate in 2014.
‘This is a decision Julianne and I have thought through and prayed about for many weeks. I am humbled by and grateful for the extraordinary trust of Georgians, who have allowed me to represent them for 20 years in the United States House and Senate.
“I am proud of my conservative voting record in fulfilling those duties. In 2008, I was honored to receive more votes than any other statewide elected official in the history of Georgia. Lest anyone think this decision is about a primary challenge, I have no doubt that had I decided to be a candidate, I would have won re-election. In these difficult political times, I am fortunate to have actually broadened my support around the state and the nation due to the stances I have taken.
“Instead, this is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health. The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon. For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy.
“I never intended to come to Washington and stay for 20 years. But in that time, I have been proud to fight for the economic good of Georgia and the security of our nation. That includes work on four farm bills, 18 defense-authorization bills, chairmanship of the House Terrorism Subcommittee in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and being chairman or ranking member of major Senate committees for 8 of the past 10 years.
“Perhaps the greatest honor has been to champion our men and women in uniform, their families, and the Georgia military bases and contractors who create private-sector jobs.
“I am truly grateful for the love, support, trust and assistance of family and friends who have helped me along the way. I am especially indebted to my staff – past and present – whose loyalty and knowledge have not only served me well, but have served the people of Georgia superbly.
“There are two years left in my term, and there is lots left to do. I am in good health, and I plan to continue working hard to represent the best interests of Georgians, and to do my utmost to help restore America to its economic greatness.”
Senator Johnny Isakson released this statement:
“Saxby and I have been friends for 51 years and it has been my honor to serve alongside him in the U.S. House and in the U.S. Senate. We first met when we attended the University of Georgia together in the 1960s, and our wives – Julianne Chambliss and Dianne Isakson – happened to be sorority sisters at UGA. I have supported Saxby in every political race he’s run, and I’m grateful that he has done the same for me. Saxby is a true statesman who has worked tirelessly throughout his time in public life to represent the values and interests of Georgians. Our state and our country are better because of Saxby Chambliss. I will miss him dearly after 2014, but I look forward to working with him for two more years in the Senate to tackle the tough issues facing our county.”
10th District Congressman Paul Broun, who is considering running for Chambliss' seat, released this statement:
"Senator Chambliss has served the people of Georgia with both dignity and the utmost dedication for the better portion of two decades, it's been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with him on many issues affecting our great state," said Broun. "As I have been prayerfully considering my own future, I commend Senator Chambliss for his role as a true citizen-legislator and his commitment to pass the torch to another who will fight to rein in taxes and government spending so our children and grandchildren can have a better future. I wish him and his family all the best in his retirement and many blessings to come. I'm sure I'll be seeing my friend 'between the hedges' soon back at home."
14th District Congressman Tom Graves released this statement:
“Senator Chambliss’ decades of distinguished public service place him among the giants of Georgia politics. He has been a tireless advocate for Georgia and a respected expert on critical issues facing the nation. I will always be thankful for the senator’s mentorship and friendship, from the day I joined him on his bus tour during my first run for the State House through all the tough debates we’ve had in the years since. His leadership will be sorely missed in Washington, and Georgia’s public servants will look to Senator Chambliss as an example for many years to come.”