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A Family Squabble in Georgia

Previewing the coming GOP primary fight to succeed Saxby Chambliss.

6:00 AM, Feb 18, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Since 2007, Paul Broun, 66, has represented a mostly rural district east of Atlanta, earning a reputation as a constitutionalist conservative with a tendency toward the inflammatory. In 2008, shortly after the presidential election, Broun told the Associated Press in an interview that a proposal from Barack Obama to create a civilian national security force was “exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did.” Broun has also been vocally critical of the scientific theories of evolution and the Big Bang, calling them “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

Westmoreland says Broun has a “core constituency” and a grassroots following across the state, but other Georgia Republicans say they don’t expect Broun to gather much support outside of his own district.

“I think Paul was intending on running whether Saxby retired or not,” Westmoreland says. “Well, now there’s probably going to be five alternatives, so, you know, it took a little bit of the bite out of it for Paul.”

So, too, could efforts from national conservatives to avoid disastrous Senate candidates. The Conservative Victory Project, an offshoot of the Karl Rove super PAC American Crossroads, aims to find and support electable conservative candidates. If Broun’s candidacy picks up steam, he could be a target. In a recent interview, American Crossroads CEO Steven Law said the organization hasn’t decided what role it will play in the Georgia Senate race. On Friday, Tom Price, who could benefit from support from an outside conservative group, spoke positively about Rove’s new effort.

“Republicans ought to be in the majority of the United States Senate,” he said when asked what he thought of the Conservative Victory Project. “We have lost seats that we should not have lost because of a failure of communication, a failure of message, a failure of coherence in campaigns. Now that’s not to slight anybody who steps up into the ring because it’s a tough, tough arena. But clearly we can’t continue the same processes we have in the past and expect to increase our numbers in order to help save the country. So I congratulate anybody who is willing to engage in the process and get conservative candidates through the process of the nomination and to the general election and out of the general election in a victorious way so that Senator Reid gets to say something other than this is what we’re doing today.”

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