By Joel Hall
In an effort to rally support prior to Nov. 4, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) is heading on a statewide bus tour, starting Monday. The tour will begin in the senator's hometown of Moultrie, and make 80 stops in 63 counties before the general election.
On Friday morning at 7:45 a.m., the tour will make a stop at Butch's Restaurant in Jonesboro. Chambliss will speak to supporters before making his way to Fayetteville, Peachtree City, and Newnan later in the day.
Justin Tomczak, political director for Chambliss' re-election campaign, said the bus tour will allow Chambliss to connect more intimately with voters.
"The purpose of the bus tour is to get all over the state leading up to the election, and give Senator Chambliss and Georgia voters the chance to interact face-to-face," said Tomczak. "It's really two-way communication. They get to ask the questions that are on their minds, and that's so important to the electoral process."
Polling shows Chambliss' Democratic rival, Jim Martin, former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, is closing in the polls leading up to the election. According Pollster.com Friday, the candidates are almost neck-and-neck, with Chambliss leading 45.3 percent to 44.6 for Martin. Also on the ballot is Libertian candidate Allen Buckley.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has made a large investment in the state by running a series of anti-Chambliss television ads. One of the most publicized ads suggests Chambliss supports legislation which would create a 23-percent national sales tax.
John Cowherd, 13th District chairman of the Chambliss for Senate campaign, said support for Chambliss is strong in the Southern Crescent. He said events like the bus tour help more people get personally involved in the campaign.
"It's been a massive grassroots effort and its been very successful," said Cowherd. "We have campaign material distribution, we have signs throughout the district in key locations, and we have had quite a few people from the 13th District join the campaign."
Kate Hansen, a spokesperson for the Martin for Senate campaign, said he is planning his own statewide bus tour, but the dates and stops have not yet been confirmed. She believes Martin's message will resonate with middle class Georgians upset with the George W. Bush administration.
"Georgians are looking for a change in leadership," said Hansen. "They've seen the mess we've gotten in with eight years of failed George Bush economic policies ... policies that Saxby Chambliss has supported every step of the way. Middle class Georgians are looking for a Senator who will stand up for their needs, and by every indication, this race is a dead heat."
Tomczak believes Chambliss' views on energy independence, cutting taxes, and job creation will connect with conservative-leaning Georgians. However, he says the campaign is "taking nothing for granted.
"We'll counter [Martin's campaign] with the facts. We'll do that through our bus tours. We are confident that we will win because Saxby's record in the Senate stands on its own and Saxby shares the values that most Georgians share, common-sense, conservative values," said Tomczak.
Those planning to attend the Chambliss event at Butch's Restaurant are asked to arrive at 7:30 a.m., to hear him speak. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.