Sen. Saxby Chambliss to retire at end of term

6:49 PM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) speaks to members of the media after a hearing on the Benghazi attack November 16, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON -- Saxby Chambliss, the Republican senator from Georgia, says he will not seek re-election in 2014.

Chambliss released a statement late Friday morning:

"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."

Chambliss' retirement would open the door for at least two vocal Republicans who were expected to mount primary challenges against him - US Rep. Paul Broun (10th District) and US Rep. Tom Price (6th District), both of which have criticized Chambliss as being too soft on conservative issues over the past year.

RELATED | Crowded GOP field waits to replace Chambliss

Chambliss is considered one of the so-called "Gang of Six" bipartisan group of senators which have been geared toward compromise on issues relating to the National Debt. Other Senate members of that bipartisan group include senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Kent Conrad (D-ND). 

Chambliss has represented Georgia in the Senate since defeating incumbent Democrat Max Cleland in the contentious 2002 election.  Chambliss was heavily criticized for his campaign's use of television ads that suggested Cleland was not committed to homeland security in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Georgia's other US Senator, Republican Johnny Isakson also released a statement regarding Chambliss' announcement:

"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."

(CNN contributed to this report.)

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