Democrat Jim Barksdale beefs up Senate campaign staff after recent exodus

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jim Barksdale. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
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U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jim Barksdale. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jim Barksdale. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jim Barksdale. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Barksdale announced several new hires Mondayin a bid to turn around his sputtering campaign with less than a month until Election Day.

Barksdale’s camp said it was adding four new staffers: former White House aide and Atlanta native Heather Foster as senior political strategist; New York-based Phil Walotsky as a senior communications strategist; and Bernie Sanders alums Shasti Conrad and Gregory Minchak as political and communications director, respectively.

“This race will go down to the wire, and with these incredibly skilled professionals joining our campaign, we have a team in place to help us fight and win in the final month of the race,” said Rene Spellman, Barksdale’s newly-minted campaign manager.

The new hires bring more Sanders blood into a campaign that has trumpeted many of the same messages, including on trade, Wall Street and money in politics.

Foster also gives Barksdale new connections to Barack Obama, who has so far stayed out of Georgia’s relatively sleepy Senate race. Foster most recently worked for the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Obama’s nonprofit focused on improving the lives of boys of color. Walotsky also did grassroots work in Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

The additions come at a bleak time for Barksdale, who lost many of his top staffers and trails Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson by an average of 16.5  percentage-points in recent polls, according to Real Clear Politics.

With less than a month before voters hit the voting booths, it’s crunch time if Barksdale wants to give Isakson a run for his money.

The race has heated up in recent weeks, with both Barksdale and Isakson cutting dueling attack ads on trade.

“We fully expect Senator Isakson to escalate his false and cheap-shot attacks as his special interest benefactors see this race get even closer in coming weeks,” Spellman said. “That won’t deter us from running a campaign that listens and stands up for Georgians from all walks of life against Senator Isakson’s Washington insider crowd.”

Libertarian Allen Buckley is also in the race.


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