By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Senate incumbent faces Democratic challenger
Economic bailout, energy, healthcare top platform issues
Placeholder Image
The race for the U.S. Senate has unexpectedly tightened in recent weeks in the wake of Wall Street's financial meltdown and a national recession, with a new poll showing incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss barely leading Democrat Jim Martin.
A new InsiderAdvantage/Poll Position survey has Chambliss leading Martin 44 percent to 42 percent with Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley trailing with two percent. The survey was conducted on Thursday and sampled 615 registered, likely voters, and has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.
If Buckley can claim enough Republican voters dissatisfied with Chambliss' votes for immigration reform and the economic bailout, it may be enough to force a runoff between Chambliss and Martin.
The close race has Chambliss campaigning hard around the state. The campaign has scheduled a campaign rally for the Covington square on Tuesday afternoon.
On Friday, Chambliss, the senior senator from Georgia who is seeking a second term in the Senate after serving for eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives, said he did not think there would be a runoff with Martin.
"We do our own daily tracking. We're up frankly more than that," said Chambliss, adding that his campaign was concerned about the race and had been from day one. "We're confident, we're going to prevail."
He acknowledged that his early October vote in favor of the $700 billion economic bailout has cost him some Republican support but said more are beginning to realize that the bailout was in order.
"Some of them who have been supporters of mine, they weren't particularly happy," he said, adding that he voted for the bailout because "you realize something must be done and that was exactly the case here. Sitting around and doing nothing like my opponent said he would have done was not an option."
Speaking at a meet and greet in Conyers sponsored by the Rockdale Democratic Party two weeks ago, Martin said he would not have voted for the rescue plan because it didn't contain regulations of financial institutions and regulations of the consumer practices that allowed the predatory lending that helped to cause the recent wave of foreclosures.
"Without that we're just giving taxpayer dollars to [Wall Street] without any assurance that it won't happen again. It makes no sense," said Martin, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006 after serving 10 terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and as Commissioner of Human Resources under former Gov. Roy Barnes.
Chambliss said he believed the rescue plan needed to be given a chance to work before another bailout proposed by House Democrats, which would likely feature another round of stimulus checks, is passed.
"I have confidence we're going to see the credit market freeze loosen up somewhat," Chambliss said. "We need to give this an opportunity first."
Martin said he believes any new bill to address the economic recession should also include a provision that would allow the federal government to intervene and assist homeowners in the refinancing of their mortgages to prevent them from losing their homes.
"People want to pay their mortgages. It's just the oppressive terms and these conditions that have been put on people and the way they've been marketed to folks," Martin said.
Chambliss said his senior leadership is needed now more than ever in the Senate.
"In difficult times like we are in right now, Americans have looked to strong leadership. Irrespective of what the issue is, I have provided strong leadership," said Chambliss, pointing to his positions as the Ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and on the Select Committee on Intelligence.
"It's the kind of leadership that folks in the Ag community respect and have been pleased with," he said.
If reelected Chambliss said his top priorities will be tackling the financial crisis and developing an energy plan to make the United States energy independent. Chambliss is one of the "Gang of 10," a bipartisan group of senators that have proposed an alternative energy plan to that proposed by the House.
Martin said he would focus on improving healthcare if elected and says he could support the healthcare plan proposed by Sen. Barack Obama but not the one proposed by Sen. John McCain.
"I think we as a country believe that children ought to be able to get health care and Saxby Chambliss has voted against expanding the federal state program that provides health care," Martin said.
Martin promised to reach across the aisle to work with Georgia's other senator, Republican Johnny Isakson. A veteran of Vietnam, he said he would also like to focus on military issues.
"I'll make that judgment when I get to Washington about those areas where Johnny [Isakson] and I can work together and support each other," he said.
Though a very long shot, Libertarian Allen Buckley said he hopes, if nothing else, that his candidacy serves to grow the state's Libertarian Party.
"I hope to win and I know I would be a better senator than Jim Martin or Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss is a proven failure. Jim is just not the answer," he said on Monday.
Buckley, an attorney and a CPA, proposes reducing entitlements, including Medicare benefits by about one-third and moving the retirement age to 68 for those Americans born after 1985. He also said he would work to reduce military spending by one-third and would shut down most of the United State's foreign military bases.
"Empires don't last. We need to live within our means," said Buckley, adding, "a nation built on debts and unfunded liabilities is or eventually will be a weak nation."