“I imagine that there will be a lot of people jumping into that race,” Loudermilk said Friday. “But I’m sure that Georgia would favor a conservative in that position.”
Chambliss announced he would not seek a third term next year, saying “this is about frustration” with Washington gridlock that he doesn’t see changing in a divided government.
“After much contemplation and reflection, I have decided not to run for re-election to the Senate in 2014,” the 69-year-old Republican said in a statement.
Chambliss rejected suggestions he couldn’t have survived a likely GOP primary fight with the Tea Party, insisting he has a proud conservative record and noting he received more votes than any other statewide official in Georgia history in 2008.
Loudermilk, a Cassville Republican, has spoken at a number of Tea Party gatherings in Bartow and Floyd counties — and he said Friday the movement has a prominent voice in both Washington and Georgia.
A “Draft Barry Loudermilk” Facebook page was created months ago, but he’s not yet decided if he’ll step up to the plate.
“It would be a challenge to do that,” Loudermilk said. “While we do say we consider everything, it’s not something I have a direct (idea) of doing right now. But we’ll take it one step at a time and see where things go.”
Another possible Republican candidate is Gingrey, a Marietta physician who represented Floyd County for a decade before redistricting moved him east to Cobb County.
Gingrey claimed the spotlight earlier this month when he defended controversial statements about abortion made last year by failed Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, an 11-term House veteran from Southeast Georgia, did say he was considering seeking the seat. Kingston, 57, said his knowledge of defense and agriculture, important issues in Georgia, would help him in a race.
“Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be a 10-person race,” Kingston said in a telephone interview from Israel, where he was traveling with other lawmakers. “And I think you’ll probably have a self-funder in there, and you can have a mad scramble.”
Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Democrats will try to win back the seat.
“(T)here’s no question that the demographics of the state have changed, and Democrats are gaining strength,” he said. “This will be a top priority.”
An open seat in Georgia, which has trended Republican, presents a legitimate opportunity for Democrats, especially if the GOP faces a divisive primary.
Potential Democratic candidates are conservative U.S. Rep. John Barrow, who has survived redistricting in his House races, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
Pizza mogul Herman Cain, the failed presidential candidate in 2012 and a Tea Party favorite, said he would not seek the seat but rather focus on his radio show.