Johnny Isakson has a big target on his back ahead of Georgia’s lone Senate debate

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A blast from the past: Libertarian Allen Buckley, left, and Republican Johnny Isakson, center, debating in 2004. (BILLY SMITH II/STAFF)

We predict Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson will receive lots of attention today.

The two-term incumbent is the man to catch as Georgia’s three U.S. Senate candidates tangle in the only televised debate of the general election cycle later this morning. (It will air at 6 p.m. Sunday on Georgia Public Broadcasting.)

Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley have been chomping at the bit for the chance to throw some punches at the incumbent, who has done little to engage either of his challengers on the campaign trail in recent months.

Until very recently, the race was a sleepy one. With recent polls showing Isakson comfortably ahead of his opponents by double digits, the Republican has focused on selling his Senate record as he’s made the rounds across the state and rolled out reams of endorsements.

Barksdale has scrambled to build name recognition and a cohesive message after a slow and rocky start to the race. And Buckley, a three-time Senate candidate working with a shoestring budget, has embarked on a scrappy campaign to get the word out to conservatives and independents disaffected with both parties.

Here’s what to watch for in Georgia’s only Senate debate.


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