Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Atlanta-based Points of Light Foundation inspired by President George H.W. Bush, is running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss -- the same seat her father, Sen. Sam Nunn, held from 1972 to 1997.
We are filing papers as of today, Michelle Nunn, 46, said Tuesday afternoon.
Nunn said her principal issue, at least for now, is reducing the federal budget deficit and long-term debt.
I think that we need to be willing to compromise, to have a real conversation in which we put everything -- spending and revenue -- on the table, she said.
That conversation must involve the American public at large, taking the backroom political backbiting out of it and instead encouraging collaboration, Nunn said.
Everybody that I talk to shares a similar concern, she said. I think people are looking for moderation and independence, and are tired of the extremism on both sides.
Nunn characterized herself as moderate and independent.
I have a terrific role model in my father, who has been, I think, a really unique and historic statesman for Georgia and our country, Nunn said. Hes been a great adviser and actually volunteered for the last 25 years with me; and I intend to engage him in that way going forward.
Ultimately, though, the campaign will be hers, she said. Nunns campaign biography describes her as a ninth-generation Georgian. Her family still owns a farm in Perry and recently began selling homegrown produce there, she said.
I was just there this past weekend, Nunn said.
Chambliss announced in January that he would not seek a third term next year. That news set off a scramble among potential Republican contenders, but few high-profile Democrats. Republican Congressmen Jack Kingston of Savannah, Paul Broun of Athens and Phil Gingery of Marietta, as well as former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel have all announced their candidacy.
Though a famous name will help, Nunns run may be a lonely one, said Charles Bullock, head of the Political Science Department at the University of Georgia.
She gives Democrats a viable candidate, although its going to be a very steep uphill climb for her -- as it would be for any Democrat, he said.
Though Georgia is slowly drifting back toward the Democratic camp, as shown by Mitt Romneys comparatively narrow victory in Georgia in the 2012 presidential race, Republicans still have an absolute lock on statewide offices that is more than a decade old, Bullock said. Nunns race might be better seen as a trial run for 2016 -- Democrats traditionally do better in presidential election years, he said. But hoping for a senatorial victory in 2014 might be a bit too early, Bullock said.
A Democrat could run a great campaign and still lose, he said.
Even so, Republicans have lost a number of seemingly easy races in the past few years due to outrageous statements, Bullock said. Its possible that Nunn could run well against a stumble-prone Republican contender, he said.
Nunn said she plans to travel the state -- including visits to Middle Georgia -- in August with her husband Ron, their 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
Nunns campaign said she holds a bachelors degree in history from the University of Virginia and a masters degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
She helped found Hands On Atlanta, which in 2007 merged with Points of Light. That became the worlds largest organization for volunteer service, involving more than 4 million volunteers in 260,000 projects during 2012, according to Nunns campaign biography.
Nunn said one of the things that drove her to run for office was observing the work of so many volunteers, committed to improving the world.
As I look at Washington I dont see that happening, and I want to bring those values to Washington, she said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.