Plans for a debate between Senate candidates Democrat Jim Barksdale and Republican Johnny Isakson are being negotiated, and could include six debates, each in one of the major media markets in Georgia, according to a story published in the Red & Black. While the idea for one or more senatorial debates has been rumored, the Barksdale campaign issued a formal challenge to the Isakson campaign Tuesday morning.
“As Jim travels the state, jobs and the economy are by far the top issue in the minds of Georgians,” Emily Oh, the communications director of the Barksdale campaign, said. “Holding these debates on the economy in different media markets, Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah, each with their own unique economies, makes the most sense to give Georgians the best information possible about the differences.”
Isakson’s team responded within a day.
“We look forward to debating as we have always done in the general election,” Trey Kilpatrick, the campaign manager of Georgians for Isakson, said in a press statement. “Johnny has asked our campaign leadership to reach out and begin negotiations with the Barksdale campaign.”
The Barksdale campaign’s proposal did not include Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley as a participant because Buckley has less than 15% support in polling. The Committee on Presidential Debates uses 15% as its threshold to include a candidate in one of its debates. An AJC poll released over the weekend had Isakson leading Barksdale, 44% to 38%. Buckley was not included in that poll. A poll released on Tuesday by JMC Analytics showed Isakson in the lead with 39%, Barksdale with 30% and Buckley with 4%. 27% were undecided.
While the Red & Black story appears to indicate that Isakson had accepted the proposed six debate format from Barksdale, a spokesperson from the Isakson campaign confirmed to GeorgiaPol that nothing is set in stone, and the two sides are negotiating over the number and format of the proposed debates.