Looking at the Barksdale Campaign, Democrats Wonder, “What If?”

CNN takes a look at the Georgia Senate race between Democrat Jim Barksdale and Republican Johnny Isakson, and wonders if the Democrats missed an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat in this year of presidential candidate discontent. Prominent Georgia Democrats, from Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church to House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams to former gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter refused to run, perhaps thinking that Isakson would be invincible in what was expected to be a strong year for the GOP. But then, of course, Donald Trump won the GOP presidential nomination, and the Georgia presidential race has Trump with a slight lead, although barely outside the margin of error.

“We were giving a godsend, I believe, with Donald Trump,” said Barksdale supporter Leonard Ware as he waited for the candidate to speak in Gwinnett. “If we had a stronger candidate, we could’ve taken that Senate seat.”

For his part, Barksdale says he is in it to win, telling supporters he wouldn’t have run otherwise. The article cites a claim by the Barksdale campaign that if he can get 85% of the minority vote, he could win. The problem, as reflected in the recent Monmouth University poll, is that he only has 62% of the minority vote. And the reason for that, according to CNN, is that Barksdale is mostly an unknown while Isakson, after two senate terms, has name recognition.

In addition to not consolidating the minority vote, the article cites Barksdale’s refusal to try to connect Isakson to Donald Trump, the use of a cap as the symbol of his campaign, and his reluctance to be seen in public after qualifying in March.

The race isn’t over, however. One big unknown is how much Barksdale will be willing to invest financially in his campaign, having already spent $3 million. The other unknown is whether the presence of Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley will get enough votes to keep Isakson below the 50% threshold needed to avoid a January runoff. And indeed, the CNN article envisions a scenario where president-elect Hillary Clinton comes to Georgia to stump for Barksdale in order to gain a Senate majority as the likeliest way for Barksdale to win.

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Chet Martin
Chet Martin

The theory that Georgia is a transitional state that could elect a Democrat statewide has some truth, but it’s on the margin of possibility. Even in 2016, Democrats would need to catch almost every break to win.

Running against Johnny Isakson makes that impossible. It’ll require an open seat and a talented Democrat, not opposing one of the most well-respected members of Congress with a neophyte. National Democrats know that, and allocated their resources accordingly.

The Eiger
The Eiger

If the democrats organize well and put together a good GOTV program this year then they may have the opportunity in 2018 to win the governor’s race if the republican nominee has some dirt in their back ground. It would probably need to be real big dirt. Like a sex scandal or leaking 6 million taxpayers’ social security numbers.

rickday
rickday

Not really. Many major dems have given money to Issacson. Barksdale is a Birdycrat progressive, not a blue dog democrat. He is an outsider, and a danger to ‘business as usual’. That prominent democrats ‘trust’ an establishment insider like Issacson over an unknown Barksdale, is a clear indication that Barksdale is not to be trusted by insiders because he was not bought and chosen for the position. Like it or not, you have a clear choice here. This, and this reason alone, is why it is imperative progressive Georgians elect Barksdale to the Senate. However, if you want ‘business as… Read more »

The Eiger
The Eiger

It’s Isakson and Barksdale has zero chance of winning.

rickday
rickday

give me 10,000:1 odds and I’ll take your zero chance bet.

The Eiger
The Eiger

I would gladly give you those odds.

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

I’d say any credible Democratic (or Republican for that matter) candidate for Senate should keep their powder dry for Perdue. He is beyond stupid, and is likely much more beatable.

augusta52
augusta52

Well, you can’t exactly blame the Democrats—I mean, when was the last time a Republican statewide officeholder lost to a Democrat—maybe Mack Mattingly to Wyche Fowler back in 1986? (And Fowler might not have won if there had been a Libertarian in that race.) And Isakson had won pretty handily in 2004 and 2010 (58 percent each time). Even if Clinton were to win Georgia this fall, it is unlikely she would do so with a majority, but of course you need a majority to win the downballot races, and it is not likely any Democrat would have won a… Read more »