About 1,000 people gathered in Macon on Monday to honor retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Democrat, told The Telegraph after the luncheon that Chambliss, a Republican, has crossed party lines and brought common sense to government.
Its bittersweet, joy and sadness, but well miss working with Sen. Chambliss on the tremendous challenges that face our country, said Bishop, who represents part of Middle Georgia, including a portion of Bibb County.
Chambliss told the crowd at the Wilson Convention Center he was glad to have the ceremony in Macon, where he began his political career as the 8th Congressional District representative in 1994. Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002.
He came from an inauspicious start. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event, ran a video that included a clip of Chambliss mother, Emma, saying, Saxby was a good boy, but he was a redheaded devil.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, former commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, told The Telegraph that the two best words he could find for Chambliss were patriot and statesman. He said he was certain Chambliss would be placed in the ranks of Georgia lawmakers near the likes of former Sens. Richard Russell and Sam Nunn.
Whoever we elect, well have big shoes to fill, McMahon said.
Chambliss still has about 16 months to serve in his term. During a brief speech, he announced, This is not a funeral, by the way. We do plan on being around. But he also said when asked what hell do in retirement, he replied, I have no idea.
Chambliss thanked his supporters, whom he gave credit.
Thank you for your great support over the years. Thank you for your great friendship, Chambliss said. Its you folks who made this happen. I just happened to be in D.C. representing you folks and your values.
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican who represents much of Middle Georgia, said Chambliss has been one of the countrys best advocates for smart stances on agriculture, national intelligence, terrorism and homeland security.
I think his name will be right there among Georgias greatest, said Scott, who represents the 8th Congressional District seat once held by Chambliss.
The convention centers ballroom was a virtual whos who of political figures.
Among the people reportedly present who are interested in replacing Chambliss were U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, businessman David Perdue, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, former Secretary of State Karen Handel and former national charity executive Michelle Nunn.