To speak of hand-wringing in Democratic circles over the U.S. Senate race would be an understatement.
Democrat Jim Barksdale emerged as the party’s challenger to Republican Johnny Isakson just days before qualifying, an unknown political novice who stepped forward after a host of higher-profile elected officials passed on the race.
Now, with polls showing the deep-pocketed newcomer within single-digits of Isakson and GOP unrest over Trump, we’re hearing from some of those would-be challengers lamenting what might have been had a more established politician jumped in the contest. Instead, Barksdale has struggled to earn support within his own party, and three Georgia Democrat elders crossed party lines to endorse his GOP rival. (The latest on Monday was that former governor and U.S. senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, would serve on the leadership team for Isakson’s reelection bid.)
One well-known Democrat sighed to us that it “would have been a blast” to run with the specter of Trump weighing down the ticket. Another said it was a missed “golden opportunity.” A third told us simply, a few months ago, “I should have run.”
One who agreed to speak on the record is state Rep. Scott Holcomb, a Brookhaven Democrat who was among the cadre of younger Democratic office-holders who decided against challenging Isakson.
“Georgia Republicans are shifting from an offensive to a defensive strategy and they don’t know what to do about Trump – should they embrace him or reject him?” he said. “The top of the ticket is going to impact every race in Georgia this year, and Republicans are going to have to pick their poison — express their loyalty to Trump or rebuke the leader of the party.”
What’s harder for Isakson’s would-be challengers to stomach: Barksdale got in the race in mid-March, at a time when Trump was already well on his way to becoming the GOP’s nominee. In other words, they could have seen this coming.
Meanwhile, Isakson’s campaign team announced on Monday that it’s assembled a more than 1,600-person reelection leadership team that includes virtually every elected Republican official in Georgia.
The list is a striking one relative to the size of Isakson’s competitor’s teams. It includes representatives in all 159 counties.
On the list: U.S. Sen. David Perdue, former Republican U.S. senators Saxby Chambliss and Mack Mattingly, Gov. Nathan Deal and other top leaders: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Attorney General Sam Olens. The list goes on from there.
This post was ripped from this morning’s Daily Jolt. Read the original piece here.