Georgia’s sleepy U.S. Senate race gets a jolt from longshot contenders

Jan. 12, 2016 - Atlanta - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson delivers his address. Isakson, Governor Nathan Deal, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, and House Speaker David Ralston were featured speakers at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast. The event was expected to attract more than 2,000 Georgians, including many of the state's elected officials and business leaders. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate primary features three candidates: an incumbent seeking a third term after revealing an illness; a challenger trying to capitalize on the senator’s disease; and another who has staked her campaign on opposing a federal takeover of the education system.

Across the aisle, an unknown millionaire who claims his headgear qualifies him as an outsider is trying to position himself as the only Democrat who can win the seat. First, though, he must beat an opponent who sued his own party over favoritism claims and another who said Georgia can’t afford to send a “rich businessman” to Washington.

Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is expected to trounce his two rivals on Tuesday, even though he faces middling approval ratings and questions about his Parkinson’s disease. And Democrat Jim Barksdale, the aforementioned millionaire, is the favorite to win his first electoral test after blanketing the state with introductory ads. But in this first vote in Georgia since Donald Trump rode an insurgent wave to the Republican presidential nomination, the sleepy Senate race has gotten a jolt from rivals urging voters to buck the party favorites.

More: Take a closer look at the Senate contest here.

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