From left to right: U.S. Sen. David Perdue; former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson; Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry

NEW DETAILS: Who’s challenging Sen. David Perdue in 2020?

Georgia’s 2020 U.S. Senate race has gotten off to a relatively quiet start. 

Democrats eyeing a challenge to incumbent U.S. Sen. David Perdue were in a holding pattern earlier this year as Stacey Abrams, the party’s de facto leader, mulled whether to enter the race.

Even after the former gubernatorial hopeful passed on the contest, the Democratic field has been slow to form. 

That said, several candidates have expressed interest, and without a clear Democratic favorite the primary contest is considered wide-open. 

Related: Who has applied for U.S. Sen Johnny Isakson’s seat

Perdue, a first-term Republican, has a famous last name, arguably the state’s most powerful political network and a very powerful ally in the White House. He’s spent the opening months on the campaign trail highlighting the work of the Trump administration and lambasting Democrats for embracing socialist principles. 

Here are the current and potential candidates we’re watching: 

Democrats

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. University of Georgia/Russell Library

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson

Details: Perhaps no Georgia Democrat has signaled their interest in the Senate seat as vigorously as Tomlinson, 54, who stepped down from her city hall gig in January after two terms in office. The lawyer filed paperwork to explore a Senate run in April 2019 with the caveat that she’d only run if Abrams didn’t and formally jumped into the contest shortly after Abrams opted out. Tomlinson has presented herself as a progressive who can also appeal to parts of rural Georgia where Democrats got clobbered in the midterms. 

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM 2015
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry

Details: The first-vice chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia made a name for himself in political circles as the “millennial mayor” of Clarkston who has pushed policies to decriminalize marijuana and create a $15 minimum wage for city employees. He also honed his national image with a recent role as the “anti-Trump” figure on Netflix’s “Queer Eye” show. He will aim to pull the field to the left on a host of progressive issues, from environmental advocacy to criminal justice. He entered the race in July. 

11/02/2018 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Sarah Riggs Amico, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, )speaks during a rally for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Forbes Arena at Morehouse College, Friday, November 2, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Sarah Riggs Amico, business executive

Details: An auto executive and political newcomer, Amico was defeated by Republican Geoff Duncan in 2018 in the race for lieutenant governor. On the campaign trail, she described herself as a pro-choice, evangelical Christian and former Republican. Amico is the executive chair of Jack Cooper Holdings Corp, a Cobb-based trucking and logistics firm that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. She entered the race in August

Democrat Jon Ossoff. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff

Details: The 32-year-old former congressional aide built a national name for himself in the 2017 blockbuster 6th District special election. Ossoff ultimately lost to Republican Karen Handel but built up an impressive fundraising list in the process, one he used in to help suburban congressional candidates like Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux in 2018. Since the special election, Ossoff has returned to his documentary filmmaking company. He entered the race in September

Other potential candidates who are considered doubtful: 

Former state Sen. Jason Carter; Pastor Raphael Warnock; State Rep. Scott Holcomb; Former U.S. Sen. nominee Michelle Nunn

Democrats who have ruled themselves out: 

Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams; Ex-acting Attorney General Sally YatesState Sen. Jen Jordan 

Other possible candidates: 

Former state Rep. Doug Teper, a top ally to Roy Barnes in the early 2000s, is ruminating on a run. Several lesser-known candidates have filed fundraising paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, including Marckeith DeJesus, a financial counselor who lost two recent bids for the state Legislature. Stockbridge High School teacher Akhenaten Hotep Amun has also filed papers, as has Elaine Whigham Williams, a pastor who ran for president in 2016. 

Republicans

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid, on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

U.S. Sen. David Perdue

Details: The 69-year-old was a political neophyte when he announced his bid to replace the retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in 2013, albeit one with deep pockets and a famous last name (former Gov. Sonny Perdue is his first cousin). Perdue’s anti-establishment message and country boy-turned-CEO image resonated with voters, and the Republican indicated he plans to revive those motifs as he ramps up his 2020 reelection bid

Since arriving in Washington in early 2015, Perdue has prioritized overhauling the sputtering federal budget processbolstering the Pentagon and loosening the grip of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul on community banks. He’s also closely aligned himself with Trump, sticking by the commander-in-chief even in his most isolating moments. His formidable political network includes officials in the top rungs of Washington and Georgia politics, including Agriculture chief Sonny Perdue, Kemp, Mike Pence’s former Chief of Staff Nick Ayers and ex-state GOP chairman John Watson.  

Perdue is running for a second and what he says will be final term. He’s been quickly rebuilding his campaign infrastructure over the past year and holding a series of major fundraisers. 

Republican Derrick Grayson is shown in Decatur during his 2014 U.S. Senate campaign. (AJC/Hyosub Shin)
Photo: Daniel Malloy/Political Insider blog

Other potential GOP candidates: No prominent Republican is likely to challenge Perdue, but several lesser-known contenders could jump in. Derrick Grayson, a perennial candidate and self-styled “Minister of Truth,” has created a 2020 Facebook group 

Third-party candidates 

Clifton Kilby has filed fundraising papers to run as an Independent, but no information about him was immediately available. A retired police officer with the same name ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in Forsyth County, N.C., last year.  

Read more: 

Who’s running in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District

Who’s running in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X