POLITICS

Paul Broun, Georgia GOP Congressman, First To Jump Into 2014 Race For Open Senate Seat

02/06/2013 07:25 pm ET

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), a conservative firebrand with a knack for controversy, became the first candidate to officially enter the race to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who has said he won't seek reelection next year.

"Georgians aren't interested in labels or affiliation, they're interested in solutions," Broun said in a statement on Wednesday. "And that begins by making Washington smaller and America bigger! That's the reason I'm running for U.S. Senate."

Broun's announcement follows initial plans described by his wife last month, shortly after Chambliss stated that he wouldn't run for a third term. While Broun is currently the only candidate from either party to publicly enter the race, other Republicans have been named as possibilities.

Other Republicans mentioned are Reps. Paul Gingrey of Marietta, Jack Kingston of Savannah and Tom Price of Roswell. National Democrats, meanwhile, say Georgia is a prime pick-up opportunity, though no clear candidates have emerged.

Broun may provide enough color for a Senate race all on his own. The Tea Party favorite and member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology drew outrage from the scientific community last year when he declared that "evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory" are all "lies straight from the pit of hell." The statement drew a mock protest challenge from a write-in candidate named "Charles Darwin" in November. With no real opposition, Broun easily won reelection.

His history of inflammatory remarks does not end with jabs at scientific principles. Broun has accused President Barack Obama of embracing socialism, Marxism and the example of Adolf Hitler on separate occasions. Just last month, he claimed that the president was only interested in upholding the "Soviet constitution."

Given that record, Broun's entrance into the Georgia Senate race could be causing GOP strategist Karl Rove to perk up his ears. Earlier this month, the Rove-backed American Crossroads super PAC rolled out its Conservative Victory Project offshoot, an effort to counter the recent trend of very conservative candidates winning GOP Senate primaries and then losing in the general because of their extreme views or comments.

The AP reports that conservative activists in Georgia have already expressed skepticism about the influence of such establishment Republican forces in the race. Though outside groups have not immediately announced how they intend to approach the contest, one unnamed Republican told The Washington Post that an effort to counter Broun wouldn't be necessary because he's "going to say things that are going to make him unelectable, even in an ultraconservative GOP primary in Georgia."

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