Influential conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who earlier this week said he was considering a primary challenge to Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissFormer Georgia Sen. Max Cleland dies at 79 Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Live coverage: Georgia Senate runoffs MORE (R-Ga.), said on Friday he’s decided against it.
“Were I to run for the Senate, it would be a terribly nasty campaign,” Erickson wrote at Red State. “It’d actually be really awesome, but it’d be really nasty. I have a seven year old, a soon to be four year old, and a wife who does not like being anywhere near a stage. I’m not putting my family through that when the best outcome would mean a sizable cut in pay and being away from my kids and wife all the time huddled in a pit of vipers often surrounded by too many who viewed me as a useful instrument to their own advancement.”
Senators make $174,000 a year, but Erickson, in addition to his website and radio show, is a paid TV commentator for CNN.
On Tuesday, Erickson, who lives in Macon, Ga., said he was considering the primary challenge to Chambliss after the Georgia Republican made dismissive comments about his pledge never to raise taxes under any circumstances.
Chambliss is one of a handful of Republicans who have backed away from the anti-tax pledge they signed with conservative activist Grover Norquist. Last week, Chambliss told local Georgia television station 13WMAZ that addressing the nation’s looming “fiscal cliff” took precedence over honoring the pledge.
“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” he said. “If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
Chambliss later took to Twitter to say he was “in favor of significant tax reform to lower tax rates and generate additional revenue through job growth,” but acknowledged in the 13WMAZ interview he expected that Norquist and other conservatives might hold his decision against him when he is up for reelection in 2014.
In an interview with The Hill earlier this week, Chambliss’s team brushed aside any concerns about a primary challenge from the right.
“It doesn’t bother us. I’ve never objected to primaries. I actually like them; in all my life I have,” Chambliss’s top political strategist, Tom Perdue, said. “The issues get discussed better in primaries — that’s what I like. It involves more people getting into the process and it gets people excited.”
Cook Political Report editor Jennifer Duffy told The Hill she didn’t take Erickson’s potential candidacy too seriously, calling it “chest-thumping” likely made in a “fit of pique.” She said Erickson probably doesn’t have the name recognition within the state that he thinks he has and would have to drop his television gig and generally excel at a lot of the political operations outsiders tend to underestimate.