Which Dems Might Run In The 2020 Senate Special?

We’ve discussed possibilities for who Governor Kemp might appoint to fill the vacancy left when Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Statesman) resigns from the Senate at the end of this year, and plenty of folks are debating whether Kemp will appoint a placeholder, or a 2020 contender.

What is clear is that the 2020 Senate races – both the general and the jungle – are going to be closely scrutinized and well-funded, and Republicans definitely aren’t the only potential candidates discussing a run with their campaign consultants and/or their spouses (in no particular order) this holiday weekend.

Behold, my entirely speculative, possibly aspirational, and certainly in no particular order, list of potential Democratic candidates in the race to succeed Senator Isakson:

  • Congresswoman Lucy McBath: The defining priority of McBath’s congressional campaign was her drive to stop gun violence in our country. To that end, she checked a big box when HR 8, which would require federal background checks for all gun purchases, passed the House earlier this year. That legislation is now in the Senate, and may prove motivating for McBath to head to the Senate, as well. She has enthusiastic supporters and national fundraising prowess.
  • Carolyn Bordeaux: This is a longshot and is based on nothing but conjecture on my part, and I’m the one with the keyboard and the GeorgiaPol dot com login. But with a crowded Dem primary field in the CD 7, Bordeaux could always decide to leave one fray for another.
  • Sally Yates: The Twitter movement to draft former United States Deputy Attorney General (and 10-day Acting Attorney General) began approximately two minutes after news of Senator Isakson’s resignation hit the wire. Yates wasn’t interested in running against Senator David Perdue, and she’s offered no indication she’s interested in running for this seat, but, you know, Twitter.
  • Michelle Nunn: Nunn was defeated by Perdue in 2014, but she proved herself to be a solid fundraiser and campaigner, and 2020 Georgia is definitely not 2014 Georgia.
  • Jason Carter: He has the right Twitter handle, and he ran for Governor in 2014. He has a solid #gapol pedigree, and served in the Georgia Senate for five years (hence the ready-made Twitter handle).
  • Senator Jen Jordan: Jordan certainly knows her way around a jungle primary, and she is also well-versed in what it takes to win back-to-back, knock-down-drag-out campaigns – which is exactly what whoever wins this thing is going to have to turn around and do all over again in 2022. She is a fierce fundraiser and made a national name for herself following her incandescent speech on the Senate floor opposing HB 481, the heartbeat bill, during the 2019 legislative session. Jordan also already has the right Twitter handle.
  • Jon Ossoff: You remember him. He declined a run against Perdue, but he may be the most formidable fundraiser on this list, especially when it comes to national fundraising, and if there’s one thing this campaign requires, it’s national fundraising skills. The other thing this campaign will require is a motivated, enthusiastic, tireless volunteer army, and if his Congressional run is any indication, he’s got that well-covered, too.
  • Reverend Raphael Warnock: Warnock is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and considered a run against Isakson in 2016. He is well-known, well-regarded, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, 2020 Georgia is definitely not the same thing as 2016 Georgia.
  • Stacey Evans: The former gubernatorial candidate didn’t win the Democratic primary in 2018, but she gained tremendous fundraising and statewide campaign experience during the process, and continues to be well-regarded throughout Georgia. She also produced what is considered by many to be one of the most powerful campaign videos we’ve seen in Georgia, and her personal story would likely continue to resonate with voters.
  • Sherry Boston: The DeKalb County District Attorney is on several shortlists for this race (and others, like those for the Georgia AG). She’s a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform and she was one of the first prosecutors in Georgia to say she would not prosecute women under HB 481. (NB: Hey, do y’all think there might be a theme what with the whole women angry about the heartbeat bill in 2020 Georgia races?)
  • John Barrow: Barrow represented a significant chunk of Georgia in Congress for a decade, and he’s currently running for an open seat on the Supreme Court of Georgia following a runoff loss for Georgia Secretary of State in 2018. I think this is a bit of a longshot; his Supreme Court campaign seems to be going strong, and he has a broad base of supporters.
  • Michael Thurmond: Thurmond is currently the CEO of DeKalb County, and prior to that office, his resume includes service in the Georgia House, three terms as Georgia’s Labor Commissioner, and he lead DFCS and served as superintendent of DeKalb County Schools. He has a solid roster of leadership experience in Georgia, and that could translate well to the Senate.

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Charlie
Charlie

For the record, the first name on this post is Teri.

xdog
xdog

Teri would make a good candidate. So would Jen Jordan and some of the others listed. No Ossoff or Nunn or Carter reruns, please.

The candidate will need to be ready for a long wearing campaign. Strong back and strong stomach required.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

A general election winning candidate needs to excite marginal Dems and also be acceptable to those Never Trumpers for whom voting for any Dem is anathema. Trump almost daily lower that bar however, driving home that any vote for the GOP is a vote for himself. (Marginal meaning Dems that don’t regularly turn out.) It’s the wing of the DPG that I tend to align with, but I don’t think Yates, Nunn, Carter, Evans et al can do much beyond tapping revulsion to Trump. Thurmond is still unpacking all the DeKalb County baggage he inherited, which would hurt him some… Read more »

Will Durant
Will Durant

Certainly it hasn’t escaped the Dems’ notice that the “special” election for Isackson’s current seat will not have a primary? At the state level they need to get their ducks in a row on who will be in the primary to face Perdue and who will face Kemp’s appointee without it becoming a circular firing squad. I was impressed by the CD7 race run by Carolyn Bordeaux, but I think she has the best chance of winning that district this time provided she survives the primary. Even though she would not have had the national or “Hollywood” support that Abrams… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

It being a special election should encourage moderate candidates from both sides of the aisle, since there’s no primary to drive candidates to extremes. Dems will need to rally around one good candidate to have a decent chance in the runoff. Isakson wasn’t a moderate, but he was bipartisan and not given to rancor, so candidates can campaign on being a good replacement, something a Republican couldn’t do in a primary. Or that the incumbent can’t do depending on who and what they do in the first 9 months of 2020. I think prospects are good, if a Dem wins,… Read more »