You may not know that name, but the Atlanta attorney specializing in intellectual property issues is the latest Republican candidate to announce he’s running for Saxby Chambliss’ U.S. Senate seat, having formally entered the race Wednesday.
It is an increasingly crowded field. Gardner is up against Congressmen Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and businessman David Perdue. Two candidates rival Gardner for their lack of name recognition: Eugene Yu, president of the Federation of Korean Associations and a former deputy sheriff; and Derrick Grayson, a black conservative political activist.
So why should Gardner, a relative unknown, stand out?
Gardner describes himself as a moderate poised to win in a field of seven very conservative opponents. For instance, he is willing to support gay marriage.
“There’s a tremendous opening in this race,” Gardner told WSB’s Pete Combs after announcing his candidacy in Midtown Wednesday.
Gardner figures his position as a fiscal conservative and social moderate gives him the edge in the race. “By goodness, I’m going to win this thing!” he exclaimed.
But hold on, suggested WSB political analyst Bill Crane.
“The Georgia Republican Party leans well right of center in the primary,” Crane said. That doesn’t bode well for a little-known candidate who professes to be a moderate.
“A social moderate” with virtually no name recognition “doesn’t look very good to a betting man,” Crane continued.
But at the same time, Crane says the extremism of a candidate likely to win the upcoming primary could be a liability in the general election, where the Republican standard-bearer is likely to face Michelle Nunn, the Democrat daughter of popular retired U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.
Gardner believes he can win if he can simply survive the primary. But unlike WSB’s Crane, Gardner believes seven candidates on the far right of the political spectrum will so fragment the conservative vote that he might be able to outpoll any one of them in the primary and make it all the way to November 2014.