The Georgia Chamber of Commerce gathered at the Macon Centreplex on Monday honor retiring Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss at their annual luncheon.
Chamber board chair Stephen Green praised Chambliss for his bipartisanship in the Senate and his work securing funds for the Savannah harbor deepening, among other accomplishments. "Senator, we realize there's still many months left in your term. But we didn't want to miss this opportunity to say thank you," he said. Chambliss' term will continue through 2014.
Congressman Sanford Bishop, a Democrat, also praised Chambliss for his bipartisan spirit. "Saxby has always been a man of integrity, no nonsense. As a result, he has taken some pretty awful lashes," he said. "But his commitment to principles and not partisanship, to working for the good of the country and not just party distinguish his service to Georgia in the United States Senate."
Taking the stage after a videotaped greeting from House speaker John Boehner and an introduction from Republican Congressman Austin Scott, who currently holds Chambliss' old House seat, Chambliss joked about his post-retirement plans. “Somebody asked me again a couple times today, ‘well, what are you going to do?’ And I have no idea. The only thing I know is I want a life after the Senate,” he said.
Chambliss said the political climate in Washington is the toughest he’s ever seen in terms of getting things accomplished, though he has hopes for progress during his final year in office.
Many of the people hoping to replace Chambliss in the Senate were in attendance, including Republican congressmen Paul Braun, Phil Gingry, and Jack Kingston, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, as well as Democrat Michelle Nunn.
Asked if Nunn or another Democrat could win his seat, Chambliss told reporters the race is wide open. "Georgia has always been such a diverse state, both politically, economically and population-wise," he said. "We’ll see who comes out."