Gingrey set to announce Georgia Senate bid Wednesday

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) will officially announce his Senate campaign on Wednesday, a Republican close to him confirmed to Post Politics.

Gingrey will become the second Republican to join the race for retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s seat. Rep. Paul Broun (R) launched his bid for the seat last month. The Republican close to Gingrey spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak on the record.

The news of Gingrey’s upcoming announcement was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gingrey and Broun are both physicians, and members of the Republican Doctors Caucus. Both are vociferous opponents of President Obama’s health-care law.

The two conservatives were also among the 10 House Republicans who last week voted against the House GOP budget blueprint.

Broun is an outspoken conservative with a tendency to stoke controversy with his remarks. He once said, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” He’s also accused the president of upholding the “Soviet constitution.”

Gingrey, meanwhile, was the subject of controversy in January, when he defended Republican Todd Akin, the 2012 Missouri Senate candidate who argued that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy.

“Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ -- and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that,” Gingrey said, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Gingrey later said his attempt to provide context for remarks by Akin and Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (who also stoked controversy with comments about rape) resulted in his position being "misconstrued." He said he doesn't "defend, nor do I stand by" the remarks of Akin or Mourdock.

The Republican field could grow in the coming months. GOP Reps. Jack Kingston and Tom Price might also enter the mix. Former secretary of state Karen Handel is another name to watch. Handel and Price are political allies, leading many Republican strategists to believe they won’t both run.

Democrats don't have a deep bench in the GOP-leaning state. Conservative Democratic Rep. John Barrow looks like Democrats' only real option to make the race competitive. Barrow hasn't said definitively whether he will run or not.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Aaron Blake · March 26, 2013