Senate challengers will be allowed to stand up to Johnny Isakson

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The debate stage arrangment that prompted objections from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson's challengers. Jim Galloway/AJC

Johnny Isakson’s opponents fumed when heard they would be debating the two-term Republican incumbent while sitting down. Now it looks like the three U.S. Senate candidates, including Isakson, have agreed to stand up.

After a Wednesday walk-through, the campaigns of Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley were unhappy with the Atlanta Press Club’s initial decision to have a seated debate, which they said would lend itself to a less energetic discussion. Buckley went a step further, suggesting that the format would aid Isakson, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.logo-all

Barksdale and Buckley’s campaigns complained to Atlanta Press Club President Lauri Strauss, and after talking with the three camps Wednesday afternoon, Strauss said all corners had signed off on a traditional podium-style debate. Strauss said the podiums would “make sure the candidates focus on the issues during the debate without the other distractions.”

Barksdale campaign spokesman Greg Minchak said the campaign welcomed the Press Club’s decision. “This format will deliver a debate worthy of the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia,” he said. 

The hubbub produced one of the more prickly episodes of this sleepy U.S. Senate race, in which the subject of Isakson’s health has more or less been avoided.

Isakson’s campaign spokeswoman Amanda Maddox had this to say about the din: “Unlike our opponents, Johnny Isakson can debate standing up or sitting down.”

The debate will be recorded Friday and air on Georgia Public Broadcasting on Sunday.


Speaking of Georgia’s Senate race, it hasn’t attracted much attention from moneyed interests outside the state. But one group over the last two weeks has begun pouring some real money into the contest.

An arm of the National Association of Realtors has spent nearly $1.6 million in favor of Johnny Isakson, a fellow realtor, since early October, according to federal campaign finance data. Their biggest purchase came this week, when the group sunk nearly $1 million into cutting an ad supportive of the Republican.

The group so far is the only one to dip its toe into the race through a specific category of giving that allows them to spend unlimited amounts of money but prevents coordination with the campaigns. Such giving is a great way to gauge how competitive a race is, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on it as the contest reaches its final stretch.


Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Priorities USA, a pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC, was reserving significant TV air time in Georgia – in the “seven figures” area. Here’s the ad that will be running in metro Atlanta, Macon and Savannah:

So far, our sources have only spotted five figures’ worth of spending: An $81,000 buy on WSB-TV in Atlanta, and a $15,000 purchase on WMAZ-TV in Macon. But we’re told the group now plans to spend $2 million in the state between now an Nov. 8.


The Rev. Jesse Jackson is in town today for a series of events aimed at driving out the vote for Hillary Clinton.

A roundtable discussion is planned in the afternoon featuring Georgia Tech student leaders about the election. He’ll join U.S. Rep. John Lewis at 6 p.m. at the Center for Civil and Human Rights for a talk on racial equality. And then he’ll lead a “unity march” around downtown Atlanta.

“If Dr. King and Rev. Lowery and Ralph David Abernathy can fight for the right to vote, the millennial generation who inherited those rights and privileges cannot give them up,” said Rev. Jackson in a statement. “Young people must use their vote. If we all do our part as a community, we will win Georgia and change the course of America for the better.”

You can find more details here.


Yes, that was Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle at the ceremony Tuesday celebrating the redevelopment of the run-down building that will one day house the boutique Clermont Hotel. And there was some bemused questioning on Twitter about it.

You have questions, we have answers. Cagle spokesman Adam Sweat told us the Republican wanted to show his support for the renovation of a 1920s building that will give an economic jolt to a resurgent neighborhood.

“The hotel is an iconic landmark for the community and seeing it restored to its former greatness, as a result of the Historic Site Tax Credit (passed by the General Assembly last session), really is remarkable,” said Sweat.

Oh, and for the oppo-researchers: We are told he left before the arrival of Blondie, the infamous dancer who works at the nearby Clermont Lounge. Read more about the new project here.



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