The news this week of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement has big implications for Georgia politics — for both Republicans and Democrats.
For Georgia Democrats, the news is a rallying cry.
“I don’t think that it’s better for Republicans. The fact of the matter is they have to defend one more seat,” said Scott Hogan, executive director of the state Democratic Party. “They’re going to have to spend more money to defend a seat they already held.”
When Hogan took the job two months ago, he already knew 2020 would be a big year for Democratic campaigning because last year’s governor’s race was so close. But Wednesday’s news that Isakson is resigning takes it to a whole new level.
“While I fully believe and know that we are, we were, I should say, a battleground state prior to this, we are THE battleground state now,” he said.
What does that mean here on the ground? Even more national money and national attention.
“It’s significant,” Hogan said.
“There is no state that has more on the line and no other state that can affect the national narrative, that is more important than Georgia in the upcoming cycle,” he said. “The ability to win with two Senate seats, the ability to help flip the Senate is a significant thing. The electoral votes that would come with a blue Georgia are a significant thing.”
It’s going to be complicated to get there, though.
First, Gov. Brian Kemp has to appoint a replacement by the end of the year who will hold the seat until a special election next November. One Senate seat will have a traditional two-party primary, but Isakson’s seat will not. That will be determined by a “jungle primary,” or a nonpartisan blanket primary, which means everybody on one ballot in November. Per Georgia law, each candidate needs 50 percent plus one vote. If Isakson’s seat pushes to a runoff, that runoff wouldn’t happen until January.
Now, Democrats just have to find the candidates.
They have four campaigns active in challenging U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s Senate seat right now.
With this news, every seat Georgia has in Washington is up for election next November.
Brace yourselves for campaign ads.