ATLANTA -- Georgia Democrats’ dream of a candidate capable of bankrolling a challenge to Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson materialized Thursday when an Atlanta money manager filed the paperwork to become a contender.
National and state Republicans began snipping at him immediately, offering a clue as to how seriously they take his challenge to the 71-year-old incumbent.
Macon native Jim Barksdale became the fourth Democrat in the race that also includes another Republican besides Isakson and a Libertarian.
“It’s time for accountability in Washington because the hard truth is, they’ve lost our trust,” said Barksdale.
The Republican National Senatorial Committee fired back, noting Barksdale wasn’t the first choice of Democrats.
“After being turned down by at least 10 potential candidates, national Democrats have finally found someone to prop up their flailing 2016 prospects in Georgia – self-funder Jim Barksdale,” said committee spokeswoman Alleigh Marre, pointing to published reports over the last year recounting Democrats’ recruiting attempts.
Isakson has more than $5 million in his war chest, and is unlikely to need much to win the May 24 primary against perennial candidate Derrick Grayson. On the other hand, Barksdale has no more name recognition that the other Democrats in the race and could wind up in a primary runoff, sapping more from his pocketbook.
Also qualifying Thursday was a second Republican challenger to Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, an Athens Republican in his first six-year term on the utility-regulatory panel. Lawrenceville consultant Kellie Pollard Austin joins Michelle Miller in the three-way primary.
Former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun qualified to take on his one-time colleague Doug Collins in the 9th Congressional District. Broun had represented the 10th District until stepping down to run for a vacant U.S. Senate seat two years ago but failing to make the primary runoff.
Broun wasn’t the only Republican jumping into the race against Collins Thursday. Also qualifying were Bernie Fontaine of Suches and Mike Scupin of Cumming, both retired. Roger Fitzpatrick, a Cleveland teacher, qualified as a Republican Monday.
In the 12th District, freshman incumbent Rick Allen will face Republican challenger Eugene Yu who qualified Monday.
Democrat newcomer Joyce Nolin, a retired teacher from Evans, is running, as well as Tricia Carpenter McCracken, an Augusta journalist.
In legislative races, the contest for the state Senate seat that Bill Jackson is retiring from gained a fifth Republican, Peter Gibbons, a real-estate agent from Bowman.
House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, drew opposition from Winder financial professional Lucretia Consuela Hughes.