by: Lori Geary Updated:
ATLANTA - Just hours after he announced his retirement, Channel 2 Action News tracked down Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R- Georgia, who told Channel 2's Lori Geary it was a difficult decision.
Chambliss told Geary the decision was not about ducking what could have been a tough primary.
Chambliss said if he had decided to run again, he would have won re-election and he intends to finish out his full term.
When Geary talked to him
Friday, she said, you could definitely tell it was a very difficult decision.
"Why now?" Geary asked Chambliss.
"Well, there comes a time everybody has to decide. I'm glad I can go out when I'm on top," he told Geary as he was leaving his Cobb County office.
In a statement he released earlier in the day, Chambliss said this is about his frustration in Washington, a lack of leadership from the White House and the congressional gridlock.
Geary talked to Chambliss' fellow senator, Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, shortly after he touched down in Atlanta from Washington.
The two men have known each other for 51 years.
"Saxby is my best friend," Isakson said. "He supported every campaign I ever ran statewide and I've done the same with him, so it's a sad day from that standpoint."
Isakson had nothing but praise for Chambliss, who is a high-ranking Republican on several key committees.
But Chambliss has come under fire from hard-line conservatives for his work on the "gang of six," a bipartisan panel working toward solutions for the nation's debt crisis.
He sparred with Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist when he said he cared more about America than some 20-year-old anti-tax pledge he signed.
Gov. Nathan Deal said Chambliss called him Friday morning to tell him about his decision.
"I told him to make sure he served out his full term, because I didn't want the responsibility of appointing someone to replace him if he were to quit early," Deal said.
"Georgia will miss him dearly," Isakson told Geary. "Been the most powerful elected official from south Georgia in years, so it's a bittersweet day for me."
The list of potential candidates lining up could be a long one.
Some of the Republican names being mentioned include Rep. Tom Price, Rep. Paul Broun, Rep. Jack Kingston and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.
The Georgia Democratic Party said it sees this as a great opportunity to reclaim the seat.