“The unfortunate thing is any time we have an open seat, we lose people,” Dendy said.
Dendy cited the 2004 race in which Johnny Isakson left the U.S. House for the Senate.
Three Republicans — former State Rep. Roger Hines, former State Sen. Chuck Clay and former State Sen. Robert Lamutt — all ran for that seat.
“Only one of them can win, and we lost three good people in Atlanta,” Dendy said.
Former Cobb GOP Chairman Scott Johnson said the move by Chambliss on Friday reshuffles the political order, but that it can be a positive.
“It provides an opportunity for new blood and new faces to join the ranks of the elected officials, and sometimes that’s good,” Johnson said.
Dendy said the potential candidates who have the leg up to replace Chambliss are U.S. Reps. Tom Price (R-Roswell) and Paul Broun (R-Athens).
Johnson said he knows there are several Georgia congressmen considering the seat, including the one who represents him, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta).
But Dendy said it’s a risky move to run for the U.S. Senate.
“If any one of our sitting U.S. representatives are considering running for this seat, I just hope they have some strong polling data to show that they can win it,” Dendy said.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb) said he spent about $13 million on his Senate race.
“Consultants are salivating,” Johnson said.
Former GOP presidential contender Herman Cain is likely better known throughout the state than any Georgia representative. Cain also has a strong following among the tea party groups, but Cain announced Friday that he would not seek the position.
Isakson said the kind of candidate Georgians are looking to elect will be one who can get things done. The reason the public’s frustration level with Congress is so high is that people crave results and they’re not seeing those results, he said. While citizens have struggled through five years of an economic malaise, they’ve watched the Senate fail to pass a budget or an appropriations bill.
“So I think the focus for all of us in public life whether you’re running for re-election or whether you’re just doing your job is to recognize that people are fed up with us not doing our job, and they’re looking for somebody who will get the job done,” Isakson said.
Nothing can be accomplished in the Senate without 60 votes, and it is divided 55-45, Isakson said.
“You can’t do anything without some, from both parties, coming together to find common ground,” he said. “ I think people will look for a doer and someone who is looking at being a results-oriented person.”
Isakson said he will miss serving with Chambliss.
“He’s a terrific guy and has been my best friend for 51 years and hopefully a lot more years to come, and I’m going to obviously miss him in the United States Senate, but he’s been a great leader for the state and the House and the Senate,” Isakson said.
Clay, the former state senator and Georgia Republican Party chairman, said he doesn’t rule out Cain “or some other successful business type” entering the race and running as the outsider.
But Price has talked about making a run for Senate before and has a solid base in the Republican primary vote, Clay said.
Price’s spokesman, Ryan Murphy, was non-committal when asked Friday if his boss planned a run for the Senate.
“Dr. Price is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received,” Murphy said in an email. “He is speaking with a number of folks across the state and listening to their observations and advice. He’ll continue to listen and make a decision and announcement at the appropriate time.”
Clay also named U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) as a possibility.
“I think the question is how many of these folks are comfortable and feel like they’re building enough seniority in the U.S. Congress and House of Representatives that they would now risk losing that or how many have reached the point where they’ve done all they want to do in the Congress and are ready and willing to risk it,” Clay said.
Another formidable candidate would be former county chairman and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, Clay said.
“The U.S. Senate is pretty heady stuff,” Clay said. “As they say, it’s the ultimate country club or whatever they call it up there. There’s probably not a better life than being one of a 100 in the United States Senate, so I can certainly understand the appeal and the importance of the position.”
State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell) said don’t rule out a Democrat replacing Chambliss.
“We’d have to have the right candidate who speaks to the values of Georgians and who we are and where we want to go, both as a state and a country,” Morgan said.
Morgan said the values of the Democratic Party are the values most Georgians believe in: strong families, quality education, leveling the playing field so everybody has an opportunity to succeed, hard work, equality and justice.
“I honestly cannot name anyone off the top of my head, but I do think it signals to our party the importance of having a bench of strong candidates who will be ready to go when opportunities such as this arise,” Morgan said.