Jim Barksdale has maintained a curiously quiet persona since joining the race to unseat Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson more than a month ago. A virtual unknown in Georgia’s political world, the Democratic Party’s hand-picked favorite to topple Isakson had said nary a word to the media and kept a low profile around the state.
Barksdale broke his public silence in an interview Wednesday in his Buckhead office, pledging to run as an outsider who will seize on familiar themes of economic distress in Georgia and stifling gridlock in Washington to make his case. The investment manager pointed to the more than $1 million he’s already pumped into his campaign as evidence he’ll have the resources he needs to compete against Isakson, a popular incumbent sitting on a mountain of cash as he seeks a third term in office.
Barksdale repeatedly ducked questions on most of his policy stances, saying that he’s not ready for a “deep dive” ahead of an upcoming listening tour around the state. But he said he would build his case around business-friendly policies to boost Georgia’s economy and tap into his party’s frustration over GOP opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s going to be a competitive race,” he said. “Have no doubt.”