Election 2008

Stanley Leary/AP
Former Vice President Al Gore stumps for
U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin on
Sunday, Nov. 23.

Georgia Senate Runoff Drawing Political Heavyweights to Stump

November 24, 2008 08:55 AM
by Emily Coakley
Bill Clinton and John McCain are among those who have visited Georgia in the past few weeks to support challenger Jim Martin or incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

Undecided Georgia Senate Race Brings out Stars

As the Dec. 2 runoff approaches for one of the last undecided Senate races, big names are visiting Georgia to show their support for the incumbent, Republican Saxby Chambliss, and Democratic challenger Jim Martin.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore have made separate appearances for Martin, CNN reported.

And for Chambliss, 2008 presidential candidates John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have appeared at rallies, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Bill Schneider, CNN’s senior political analyst, said the big names bring much-needed attention to the runoff.

“Generally, they can help boost turnout because of all the media attention. Turnout in a runoff election is often very low compared to a presidential election, and each side needs to get as many of their voters to the polls as possible.”

Background: Runoff necessary in Georgia

The state requires that a candidate receive a majority of 50 percent-plus one of the votes cast, and with all but one percent of precincts reporting, Chambliss has 49.8 percent of the vote, the Associated Press said. Jim Martin, the Democratic challenger, had 46.8 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns, while the Libertarian candidate, Allen Buckley, had 3.4 percent.

A statement issued Wednesday from Georgia’s Secretary of State, Karen Handel, said election officials in each county will count absentee ballots from people overseas and in the military through the end of the week. Officials also have to resolve any disputed ballot issues.

“Once counties complete their certifications, the Secretary of State will certify the statewide results. Any run-offs will be announced upon certification, which should occur sometime next week,” the statement said. 

The runoff between Martin and Chamblis is Dec. 2. Chambliss, who is running for a second term, was among Republicans who were facing close races, according to findingDulcinea.

Key Players: Saxby Chambliss, Jim Martin

Saxby Chambliss

Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 after being elected to the House in the 1994 Republican revolution. He is a lawyer who earned his legal degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law after graduating from the University of Georgia.

Jim Martin

Martin grew up in Georgia, and studied at the University of Georgia. He is an Army veteran and a lawyer, and also spent 18 years in the Georgia State House. He was also head of the state’s Department of Human Resources.

Related Topics: Alaska Senate race decided; Minnesota Senate race being recounted

Ted Stevens, one of the longest-serving people in the U.S. Senate, appears to have lost his re-election bid, findingDulcinea reported Nov. 19. Stevens was more than 3,700 votes behind Mark Begich with just 2,500 votes left to be counted. 

"Stevens was recently found guilty of failing to report that he had received $250,000 in gifts and home renovations. He said he does not plan to ask President Bush to pardon him before he leaves office," findingDulcinea said.

Another undecided race is between Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken in Minnesota. That race is being recounted, according to findingDulcinea.

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