Kemp said in a statement that he and his aides “will carefully vet the applicants and choose a person who best reflects our values, our state and our vision for the future.”
More: An inside look: Who could seek Johnny Isakson's seat in 2020
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Isakson's decision to retire at year's end because of medical issues upended Georgia politics by triggering two U.S. Senate races in November 2020. The special election for Isakson's seat will share the ballot with a contest to fill the seat held by U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is seeking a second term.
The governor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has "no timeline" to tap Isakson's replacement, though he's under pressure to make his selection long before the three-term Republican steps down Dec. 31.
Not only is Kemp’s pick expected to help shape Georgia’s 2020 race, but he or she could also share the ballot with the governor in 2022. To put it another way, Kemp has the chance to pick his own running mate.
"We're being very methodical, obviously hearing from a lot of people that have interest or think to recommend someone to me," Kemp said this week. "There's a deep, deep bench from us to pull from."
Among the potential candidates who could apply are U.S. Reps. Doug Collins, Drew Ferguson and Tom Graves; former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, currently running for the seat in Congress she lost in November; Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, state Attorney General Chris Carr; and U.S. Attorney BJay Pak.
But Kemp seems just as likely to select a Republican who doesn't fit the traditional Georgia GOP mold, such as a business executive, judicial official or law enforcement figure who has never run for statewide office before.
The governor has already surprised critics with his early appointments, including his pick of acting Insurance Commissioner John King, a low-profile local police chief who became the state's first Hispanic constitutional officer. Kemp has also made a string of diverse, history-making selections for judicial posts.
His office said the website will be open to all applicants as long as they meet the three requirements set out in the U.S. Constitution: Each candidate must be 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years and a resident of Georgia.
The dual Senate races also ensure that Georgia will be a 2020 battleground for Democrats, who hope to erase the GOP's 53-47 edge in the chamber. Four Democrats have already lined up to challenge Perdue, and about a dozen others are weighing whether to compete for Isakson's seat.
They include U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath; state Sens. Jen Jordan and Nikema Williams; DeKalb County Chief Executive Michael Thurmond; DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston; the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church; and Lindy Miller, who lost a race last year for the state Public Service Commission.