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Thursday, December 8, 2016

(Photo by Bruce Tuten/Flickr)

Georgia senator Saxby Chambliss announced Friday morning that he will not seek re-election, opening the door for a competitive, critical Senate race in 2014.

Although Georgia is still a solid red state, the Republican Party is no longer the dominant statewide force it once was. Mitt Romney defeated President Barack Obama in Georgia by just under 8 percent — smaller than Obama’s margin of victory in other supposed swing states like Michigan and New Mexico. With the right candidates, it’s not hard to imagine a repeat of recent Senate races in Nevada, Delaware, Colorado, Missouri, and Indiana, where the GOP blew a winnable race by nominating an extreme right-wing candidate after a bitter primary.

Early speculation for the Democratic nomination has focused on “Blue Dog” congressman John Barrow, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, or even R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe. But the real action will be in the Republican primary.

Here are five Republicans who could pursue the Senate seat — and perhaps provide Democrats with an opportunity for a surprise pickup:

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