* Was target of conservative Tea Party movement
* Rebelled against anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist
By Rachelle Younglai
WASHINGTON, Jan 25 Republican U.S. Senator Saxby
Chambliss of Georgia announced on Friday he will not seek a
third term in 2014, saying he was fed up with the partisan
gridlock in Congress that has left the country lurching from one
fiscal crisis to another.
Targeted by the conservative Tea Party movement for backing
a year-end deal that raised taxes on the wealthy, Chambliss was
one of the few Republicans willing to work with Democrats on a
debt reduction plan.
Chambliss, 69, who earlier served in the House of
Representatives, stressed that he was not retiring because he
feared more conservative Republicans would try to unseat him in
the primary election.
"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," Chambliss said in a statement.
During December's negotiations to avoid the New Year's Day
austerity measures known as the "fiscal cliff," Chambliss
rebelled against anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist and said he
was open to President Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on the
He was criticized by fellow conservatives, who have signed
Norquist's "taxpayer protection pledge." But Chambliss said he
cared "more about this country" than he did about a 20-year-old
Congress eventually passed a last-minute deal that extended
tax breaks for all Americans except families earning more than
$450,000 per year.
But conservative activists were irate with lawmakers for
raising taxes without cutting spending and started looking for
replacements for Chambliss and other Republicans who backed the
No Republican challenger to Chambliss had yet announced for
the Georgia primary, but U.S. Representatives Tom Price and Paul
Broun are seen as potential candidates.
On Friday, Broun's office in a statement said he was
considering running for the Senate. A spokeswoman for Price had
no immediate comment.
A spokesman for Newt Gingrich said the former Republican
presidential candidate from Georgia would not run in the 2014
Senate race. Herman Cain, another former Republican presidential
candidate from the state, could not be reached for comment.
Democrats said Georgia now offered their party one of the
best pick-up opportunities. "There are already several reports
of the potential for a divisive primary that will push
Republicans to the extreme right," the Democratic Senatorial
Campaign Committee said in a statement.
Chambliss is a member of the so-called Gang of Eight, a
bipartisan group of senators working for deficit reduction that
has so far failed to come up with a viable plan.
"Sadly, I don't see the legislative gridlock and partisan
posturing improving any time soon," Chambliss said, citing the
2011 debt ceiling impasse and the fiscal cliff battle as
"Congress at its worst."