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The battle for Georgia -- and the Senate -- focuses on Van Nelson's house

December 2, 2008 |  1:46 am

Good news for Republicans is bad weather across much of Georgia today, with dismal, dripping skies and temperatures in the 40s.

Such obvious signs of global cooling have often deterred DIncumbent Republican Georgia Senator Saxby Chamblissemocratic voters, while Republican voters seem more oblivious to the weather.

Historically, GOP voters are also more likely to turn out for runoffs in Georgia.

Although that's not going to stop Van and Judy Nelson this morning.

This is important in that place on this day because Georgia law requires 50% + one vote to win elections.

And in a three-person race (Libertarian Allen Buckley took 3.4%) incumbent freshman GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss came up just short Nov. 4, causing a runoff today with Democrat Jim Martin, an ex-state legislator and college fraternity brother of Chambliss.

We have a video report at the bottom of this item and a link to a Sarah Palin speech video.

The Georgia Senate seat and Minnesota's comic counting opera with another GOP incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic comedian Al Franken are the only remaining undecided contests. Coleman is ahead by 215 votes in the statewide recount, which will linger even longer.

The Georgia race has attracted all the big names of ...

... national politics as surrogates -- Al Gore, who has not yet announced a presidential candidacy for 2012, Bill Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani.

Chambliss, who's 65, trotted out his big closer Monday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who lit up four unusually large crowds (video) and had them chanting her name, which was all right with candidate Chambliss this time.

"You Georgians are going to have the opportunity to determine the direction this country is going to take," Palin told the crowds.

The race's unusual import is that if Democrats win the Peach State and the 10,000 LFormer Democrat state legislator Jim Martinakes up in Viking country, they'll own a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 seats, rendering the Republican minority even more irrelevant than now.

Chambliss calls himself the "firewall" against that.

The president-elect did not deign to campaign in Georgia for the runoff, allegedly because of forming a national government or something minor like that.

But he did loan Martin his state campaign organization, which lost to McCain-Palin on Nov. 4.

Republicans are hoping much of Martin's support that day came from blacks turning out for Obama's candidacy. And without those numbers and a third candidate, Chambliss will reap the necessary 50% today. Two last-minute polls show Chambliss ahead.

But Democrats are trying everything as Van and Judy Nelson learned up in Hiram in Atlanta's northwestern exurbs. They had the only Obama lawn sign on Pool Road all fall.

So in the last 24 hours they received recorded phone calls from Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama himself, part of an estimated 1 million such automated calls statewide, which got the couple jazzed enough to decide on trooping out in this morning's lousy weather for Martin no matter what.

Martin, who's 63, also had the campaign help Monday of Rep. John Lewis and rapper Ludacris.

Tonight, we'll see if such acts and their resulting decisions made a difference.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credits: Office of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (top); Facebook (bottom).

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