The South rose again Tuesday and doomed Democratic hopes for a filibuster proof Senate by keeping Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss as a Senator from Georgia.
Chambliss won easily in a race where a Democratic win was nothing more than a fantasy. McCain carried Georgia in the Presidential election in November and a Democrat hasn’t won a statewide race there in the past decade.
Still, some Democrats held out hope that Jim Martin could ride the wave that swept Barack Obama into office along with more Democratic members of the House and Senate. Obama apparently did not share that illusion because he made no campaign appearances in the state for Martin.
Chambliss’s resounding victory, sweet as it was for the GOP, is still bittersweet for a party that faces a major rebuilding effort after the November election.
Relieved Republicans celebrated a resounding win in Georgia’s hard-fought U.S. Senate runoff, a victory that denied Democrats a filibuster-proof majority and cemented the state’s reputation as a GOP bastion.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss trounced Democrat Jim Martin Tuesday night, winning his second term by a margin of more than 10 percentage points. The race dashed Democrats’ hopes of a 60-seat majority immune to Senate filibusters, which would have given President-elect Barack Obama a stronger hand moving his agenda.
A Martin victory was a longshot in Georgia. A Democrat hasn’t won an open statewide seat since 1998.
Martin hoped to capitalize on excitement surrounding Obama but was unable to get many of the president elect’s voters back to the polls one month after the general election. Obama never came to the state to campaign for Martin, although he recorded automated phone calls and a radio ad for the former state lawmaker from Atlanta.
Chambliss revved up the state’s vaunted GOP turnout operation and kept a parade of ex-GOP presidential candidates traipsing through the state to whip up enthusiasm. He brought in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the former candidate for vice president, as his closer. She headlined four rallies for Chambliss across the state Monday that drew thousands of party faithful.