Broun jumps into Georgia Senate race

Rep. Paul BrounPaul BrounCalifornia lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner The Trail 2016: Let’s have another debate! MORE (R-Ga.) made it official Wednesday after dropping hints for several weeks that he'll run for retiring Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust MORE’s (R-Ga.) seat.

“I’ll be the only candidate in this race whose first priority is to stop the runaway spending in Washington D.C. I’ve sponsored more legislation to reduce spending than any other Member of Congress from this state,” Broun said in a statement announcing his candidacy. 

“Georgians aren’t interested in labels or affiliation, they’re interested in solutions. And that begins by making Washington smaller and America bigger!”

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Broun had been publicly discussing a possible bid for the race before Chambliss announced his retirement last month. Broun's wife last week told a group of GOP officials that he planned to run. He filed paperwork to run and announced his bid Wednesday afternoon.

Broun, a favorite of both Christian conservative activists and Tea Party Republicans, has courted controversy with provocative remarks several times in his congressional career. He recently said “the only Constitution that Barack ObamaBarack ObamaFirst lady slams Trump's 'birther' comments Obama's contradictory stance toward black asylum seekers Webb: After the debate MORE upholds is the Soviet Constitution,” and drew national attention last fall when he said that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory were “lies straight from the pit of hell.”

The congressman, elected in 2007, is the first to announce a bid for the race, but he’ll likely soon be joined by a number of other candidates. 

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) has been ramping up his fundraising as he considers a bid, though he’s been tight-lipped about his interest. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) has also been making moves towards a run, as have Reps. Tom GravesTom GravesRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman House votes to keep lawmaker pay freeze in place Lobbying World MORE and Phil GingreyPhil GingreyBeating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins K Street Former Rep. Gingrey lands on K Street MORE (R-Ga.). 

While Georgia leans Republican, especially in midterm elections, many Democrats are licking their chops at the idea of Broun as the GOP nominee.

But unlike in other races where a "grassroots conservative versus establishment Republican" dynamic has developed — creating the potential for nasty primary fights — many of Broun’s potential opponents also have very conservative voting records and are well-liked by the party's base. 

The race will likely be expensive in the large state, and Broun starts off as a big underdog in fundraising as well: he has just $156,000 in the bank as of the end of the year, according to recently filed campaign finance reports. 

Gingrey had the most cash on hand as of the end of the year, with $1.9 million in the bank, while Price had $1.6 million and has raised $250,000 in recent days, according to a fundraising email obtained by The Hill late last week. 

Kingston had just under $1 million in the bank. Graves has $560,000.

Rep. John BarrowJohn BarrowDem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech The best and the worst of the midterms MORE (D-Ga.) hasn’t ruled out a run, and would likely be Democrats’ best hope at the seat.