MARIETTA, Ga. -- Republican strategists, from Atlanta to Washington, are deeply concerned that Rep. Paul Broun could be the party's Senate nominee in the Georgia Senate race -- and it scares the bejesus out of them. They fear the controversy-courting Broun could cost the GOP the Peach State's open Senate seat and embarrass the party nationally. He's poised to be this election's version of Todd Akin. So how can they stop him?
-- Some Republicans urge the party just to ignore him. Attacking him on air will give activists wary of the establishment someone to rally around, and it might even draw a conservative outside group to come to his aid. Better-funded candidates like Rep. Jack Kingston or businessman David Perdue can handle Broun, who has struggled to raise cash, on their own.
-- Other GOP leaders acknowledge that although staying off air might be wise, that doesn't mean they should ignore him. They want Republican primary voters in Georgia, including tea party activists, to know what's in Broun's background. Don't be surprised to soon see a flurry of critical stories in the national and local media. And of note: American Crossroads says it will share its opposition research on Akin-like candidates with other outside groups, establishment and conservative alike.
-- The race's big wildcard: When do Democrats, as they did with Akin, start running thinly-disguised TV ads meant to boost Broun? Republicans universally expect it will happen, and they're not sure how they will respond.
Democratic Michelle Nunn awaits whoever emerges from the Republican field and has been working overtime to court moderates and independents. If Broun is the GOP opponent, she may very well start the race as the favorite. Republicans are working to make sure she doesn't get the chance.