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January 26, 2013

Senator retirement sparks farmers’ concern about loss of ‘huge asset’

MOULTRIE — For up and coming politicians, the retirement of veteran U.S. Saxby Chambliss spells opportunity, but for farmers it could mean the loss of a key voice in agricultural legislation.

Chambliss, 69, a Republican from Moultrie, announced Friday that he would not be seeking a third term, leading to speculation that the field of those aspiring to replace him could be crowded. His current term expires in 2014.

There has been grumbling in recent weeks among Tea Party conservatives that Chambliss’ reaching across the aisle could lead to a conservative primary challenger.

In a written statement Friday, Chambliss dismissed the notion that his decision was based on calculations of a primary challenger and said he would have won re-election if he had decided to run.

“Instead, this is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health.

“The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon.”

The impact of Chambliss’ departure could be felt most among the farming and rural communities that Chambliss served particularly well, said Hayden Willis, a Moultrie attorney who chairs the Colquitt County Republican Party and at one time worked for Chambliss in Washington.

See Sunday's edition for more details.

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