|Chambliss Ousts Cleland in Ga. Senate Race|
Nov. 6 -- Republican challenger U.S. Rep. Saxby Chambliss scored an upset victory over incumbent Georgia Sen. Max Cleland after a race in which Cleland lost substantial ground in the days leading up to the election.
Chambliss' victory flies in the face of recent opinion polls which had Cleland safely ahead. An American Media poll in mid-October put Cleland ahead of Chambliss 47 percent to 41 percent, with a 4 percent margin of error. As late as Saturday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB television reported the race had tightened, with Cleland leading 48 percent to Chambliss' 45 percent among people "certain to vote" - a lead within the poll's margin of error.
The victory follows a heated campaign characterized by ugly campaign ads during the race's final weeks. One Chambliss ad, according to the Journal-Constitution, attempted to portray Cleland's procedural votes on setting up the proposed Department of Homeland Security as opposition to the president's efforts to defend the homeland.
Sen. Zell Miller, a fellow Georgia Democrat, appeared in a Cleland spot to defend his Senate colleague.
"It's disgraceful for anybody to question Max Cleland's commitment to our national security," Miller said. Pointing to Cleland's record in the Vietnam War, during which he lost both legs and an arm, Miller said "Max Cleland is my hero," and his "opponent should be ashamed."
Chambliss backed a version of the homeland security legislation that would set aside employee union rules to allow President Bush to hire and fire federal workers in the new department. Cleland supported a version more favorable to those unions, which contributed heavily to his campaign, the Journal-Constitution reported.
Cleland consultant Karl Struble told Cox News Service the Chambliss ads used "some of the ugliest stuff I've ever seen," including "using pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein ... They're taking lying to a new art form in that race." Chambliss media consultant, meanwhile, said Cleland's ads are "so over the top negative" that they seemed designed to disgust uncommitted voters and keep them from the polls, Cox News Service reported.
On the issues, Chambliss and Cleland also sparred over a potential move to allow workers to direct some Social Security payments into private investment. Cleland was against such a move; Chambliss supported it. They also differed on health care and the president's economic plan.
A four-term congressman, Chambliss served on the House's Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Cleland, a former head of the U.S. Veterans Administration and former Georgia secretary of State, was first elected to the Senate in 1997.