Who Will Governor Kemp Appoint To Succeed Senator Isakson?

As you are aware by now, Georgia’s senior US Senator Johnny Isakson will resign from his office at the end of this year. Governor Brian Kemp will have the opportunity to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the next General Election in 2020. So, let’s speculate who may (or may not) be on that short list. (Note: this is pure speculation…)

Strong Possibilities

Congressman Doug Collins: Congressman Collins checks a lot of boxes. He’s also gotten a good amount of the spotlight as the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. National name ID, threads the needle of being a darling of the GOP base without being off-putting to centrists.

Former State Rep. Scott Hilton: He’s been the face of the Georgian’s First Commission and touring the state to talk with business and government leaders in Midtown Atlanta as well as rural Georgia. The governor selecting Hilton would not be a bad choice.

Georgia House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones: This would be a strong choice. A Republican woman from the suburbs of Atlanta might help buoy Republicans during the 2020 election cycle.

Attorney General Chris Carr: Appointing Carr, who served as Isakson’s chief of staff, would give the governor another opening to fill. Already tested with a statewide run, showing good results.

Former Congresswoman Karen Handel: She’s running for #GA06 and looks to have the best shot of defeating Tennessee resident and current Congresswoman Lucy McBath. But if tapped statewide, she has near universal name ID, good relations with the Trump White House, and has been vetted more than any politician in recent memory.

If The Planets Aligned, Maybe.

Congressman Tom Graves: A statewide race is probably in Congressman Graves’ future. Is now the time?

Former Congressman Jack Kingston: The former Congressman has been fairly active since his bid for US Senate in 2014. I’ve seen some Facebook activity trying to catch that angle.

Congressman Rick Allen: The Congressman could be the dark horse of this race.

Public Service Commissioner Tricia Pridemore: She’s ran statewide, so she has the experience of that type of campaign. Her conservative credentials would make for a solid choice.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston: The Speaker could be a formidable candidate statewide. He understands the needs and differences across both rural and metro Georgia.

Former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland: His name has been floated for statewide office (governor), so it’s possible that the governor may call on him to serve Georgia once again. He could then ask what’s the holdup of his confirmation to the Amtrak board in person.

Former HHS Secretary Tom Price: He was an effective legislator when he was Congressman. He’s served as an advisor for Governor Kemp on healthcare policy, so it’s not a far-fetched speculation. Still popular in the swing-vote northern suburbs.

GAGOP Chairman David Shafer: I don’t see this happening since he’s taken the helm of the Georgia Republican Party (and doing a fine job, by the way), but he garnered broad support among GAGOP convention delegates and won on the first ballot (60+% on the first ballot in a four-way race), so he would be a contender and could find support across multiple factions in the Georgia GOP.

Congressman Austin Scott: A possibility, but I don’t think it’s a strong one. A good Congressman but most of his name ID remains in deep-south Georgia.

Former State Rep. Joe Wilkinson: metro Atlanta (Sandy Springs) former state legislator. One of Governor Kemp’s earliest and closest supporters.

Former State Senator Josh McKoon: would be a popular pick among the governor’s base.

Congressman Jody Hice: I’ve heard his name mentioned. If the governor had to choose between former Congressman Paul Broun and Congressman Hice, I think Hice would probably have better appeal. Other than that…I don’t see this pick happening.

Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller: Could be a possibility if Congressman Collins decides not to cross over to the Senate.

Former GAGOP Chairman John Watson: Nick Ayers has likely bowed out, and in the event Secretary Perdue doesn’t want to become Georgia’s next junior Senator Perdue, there will likely be a name floated from the House of Perdue. That name could likely be John Watson.

Don’t Bet The Farm

Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash: Okay, this might be far-fetched, but hear me out. She’s done a pretty good job as commission chairman. She negotiated a pretty generous MARTA contract for Gwinnett (though the vote ultimately failed). She’s not running for reelection, but she might be willing to answer the call if tapped by the governor. She, too, may help buoy Republicans in the suburbs in 2020.

US Attorney BJay Pak: He’s well-respected among Republicans, and he’s doing a great job as US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. He chose not to run for re-election in the state legislature and declined a run for GA-7. I doubt he’d want to transplant his family to DC.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan: the newly-minted LG navigated the new state political landscape and his chamber this past legislative session pretty successfully. It seems like the Senate is starting to coalesce around him. The governor would be better off leaving the LG in the Senate to focus on shepherding the policy agenda through the state senate.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue: I don’t see the likelihood of him sharing a ballot with his cousin Senator David Perdue, but the former governor-now-secretary is worth mentioning. Plus, an additional ally for President Donald Trump.

Who’s on your short list? Sound off in the comments.

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drjay
drjay

chris carr really seems like the logical and safest choice…i wonder how much influence the senator will have in picking a replacement…some of those names would make good senators but they are a bit divisive and they would have the hell primaried out of them in a race that isn’t going to lend itself well to overcoming that in november…

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Isakson has stated as far as he’s concerned the choice is wholly up to Kemp.

Jack Fitz
Jack Fitz

Per Charlie: “The ideal candidate would be someone that brings something different to the ballot that helps Georgia Republicans expand their current base.” I don’t see anyone in that list that meets that criteria (sorry Handel doesn’t cut it), so I’d go with the safe pick; Chris Carr. The Johnny connection is key. If I’m the GOP I want to clear 50%, and as someone from the other side, only Carr is palatable enough for me to meet that threshold. Handel would keep the 6th Blue AND force a Senate run-off to Jan 2021, then all bets are off. Fmr… Read more »

xdog
xdog

Grifter Graves. Firm electoral base, views consistent with state party, has turned into a pretty decent nuts and bolts congressman. Some bad history regarding meth hotels and loan defaults but not that much worse than anyone else.

Jody Hice will be appointed senator when one of his kids is governor, not before.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Austin Scott is the only one on the list that I would welcome, though my saying so is poison. I’m averse to insiders that haven’t won an office on their own without having been elevated to incumbent by appointment. Those in need of a job are just as bad, but note I don’t think all those beginning with a “Former” would be retreads. Surprised by the placement of Hilton in the Strong Possibilities group. He’s a no name. Joe Wilkinson and Sonny Perdue would be 74 years old when sworn in. The concerns about Ralston’s practice of law are too… Read more »

The Eiger
The Eiger

The case for Tom Price: He’s sitting on nearly $2 million in his congressional campaign that can easily be moved over to a Senate account. That a huge head start. He was one of the best fundraisers in Congress so that number will quickly increase. Moving forward Georgia Republicans have to win the suburbs back. No one on this list can do that like Tom Price can. Appointing a sitting member of Congress will force a special election along with it a bill for millions of dollars. Kemp would be wise to avoid that. There will be lost of pressure… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Good point about the money. But what Price meanwhile has been trying to do with it places him among those that need a paying job. That, and what drove him from HHS don’t sit well with those that prioritize integrity. Maybe we’ll get to see how that plays.

The Eiger
The Eiger

You think the millionaire that helped start the largest orthopedic surgery group in the southeast needs a job. Okie Dokie.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Tom Price seems to think he needs a job:
“Former congressman and HHS Secretary Tom Price is asking federal regulators to let him become the first former officeholder to shift leftover campaign cash to a nonprofit intended to promote his policy ideas and possibly revive a political career derailed by scandal.
https://about.bgov.com/news/trumps-ex-hhs-chief-seeks-career-rehab-with-old-campaign-cash/

The Eiger
The Eiger

You realize it would still be illegal for him to take a salary from that nonprofit right? SO he’d be doing it for free. Knowing how things work and the facts tend to help when trying to be snarking.

Benevolus
Benevolus

When has that stopped Price? Hah!
“intended to promote his policy ideas” which seem to be “how can I make money on this?” He hasn’t even paid back the money from the plane trips yet.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Needing a job encompasses more than needing money. IRS: “Charities should generally not compensate persons for service on the board of directors except to reimburse direct expenses of such service. … Charities may pay reasonable compensation for services provided by officers and staff.” Price as a Board Chairman would almost certainly be compensated for personal expenses in connection with service. Abuse in connection with expenses are what drove him from HHS. Presumably Price would not serve as a paid Executive Director, though that in and of itself isn’t illegal. Its fraught enough with conflict of interest concerns that it isn’t… Read more »

Bart
Bart

My outsider choice – Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones, retired Marine, FOXNews contributor from Dalton.

Hopefully it won’t be another career politician, Georgia deserves better than that.

edatlanta
edatlanta

Price. Really.

Having a disgraced Cabinet member of a President whose approval has dropped 16 points to +2. That’s who you think is a longshot?

The Eiger
The Eiger

I promise you that he did not lose 16 points in the suburbs. The suburbs don’t like Trump. I’ll just say. We will see.

The Eiger
The Eiger

The case against Doug Collins:

I like Doug, He’s a great guy. The only thing against him is where he lives. If he is appointed that means Chris Riley gets a congressional seat. And that ain’t good for anyone. Except Chris.

Jack Fitz
Jack Fitz

Semantics, but Doug Collins was never Chairman of Judiciary. That was Bob Goodlatte. But padding a resume never hurt.

Ellynn
Ellynn

The talk in the church parking lot after a council meeting Thursday night was Handle and Pridemore. At least two of the folks doing the church gabbing are long time ‘I was invited to his private fund riser’ Kemp backers from his original sectary of state campaign days. They seem to think Kemp will nominate a women, basically because the Senate leader needs more GOP females. I take this as a grain of salt, but this is the same crowd that picked Perdue over Kingston… In a Kingston district 5 miles as a crow flies from his home. They also… Read more »