Isakson faces formidable challenge in labor chief

By: ERRIN HAINES Associated Press 06/05/10 9:50 AM PDT ATLANTA — Just a few months…

Georgia (Jun 8, 2010)

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Associated Press
06/05/10 9:50 AM PDT

ATLANTA — Just a few months ago, Johnny Isakson had a clear path to re-election and was coasting toward his second term as a U.S. senator.

That changed in April, when Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond surprised political observers across the state and announced that he would leave the post he had held for more than a decade to challenge Isakson for his Senate seat.

Thurmond is seen as a formidable challenger, one of a few African-American candidates elected statewide and well-liked among many Georgians. To challenge Isakson, Thurmond will first have to win the Democratic primary on July 20.

If he wins the primary and defeats Isakson in November, Thurmond would be the first black senator elected in Georgia and the first elected in the South since Reconstruction. …

Political observers say Isakson is the favorite to win in November and will be tough to beat. But if anyone can beat him, they say, it's Thurmond.

"Johnny Isakson is a pretty popular incumbent in a Republican state," said Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint. "That's the position you'd want to be in. He did draw a pretty well-qualified opponent. But everything Isakson has going for him is an obstacle for Michael Thurmond."



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