The applications began streaming into Gov. Brian Kemp’s office almost as soon as the Republican encouraged anyone interested in succeeding U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson to apply online.
So far, about 500 people had filled out a short questionnaire and submitted their resumes to seek the coveted spot, which is opening after Isakson announced he’s stepping down at year’s end for health reasons.
Whoever Kemp picks would stand for election in November 2020 to fill out the remaining two years of Isakson’s term – and be expected to run again in 2022.
Among the biggest names seeking the appointment are U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, ex-U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, former Health Secretary Tom Price, and House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, the No. 2 Republican in the state House.
The public nature of the process has led some potential contenders, including U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, to opt out. Others, including business executives, statewide politicians and judicial leaders, have stayed on the sidelines.
Kemp and his advisers are well aware of a small pool of top contenders, but his aides hope the process can help identify unconventional candidates he might seriously consider.
"This application process is the wildest contest since the search for golden tickets in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” said Josh McKoon, a GOP activist and former state senator.
Here’s our updated list of some of the highest-profile candidates who have applied:
- Former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun
- Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols
- State Rep. Chuck Efstration, chairman of a key House committee
- Randy Evans, the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg and a prominent attorney
- Jackie Gingrich Cushman, an author and the daughter of the former House speaker
- State Sen. Tyler Harper, an Ocilla farmer and Kemp ally
- House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, the top Republican woman in the Georgia Legislature
- Former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who was runner-up in the Republican race for Senate in 2014
- Jack Markwalter, the chief executive of the U.S. division of CIBC Private Wealth Management
- Former U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who resigned as Trump’s health secretary after an expense scandal
Here are some other noteworthy names:
- Paulding County school board member Jason Anavitarte
- David Belle Isle, a former Alpharetta mayor who lost a 2018 Republican runoff for secretary of state
- Billy Birdwell, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Allen Buckley, a former Libertarian candidate for Senate
- Alpharetta City Councilman Ben Burnett
- Former state Rep. Melvin Everson
- Bruce Levell, a former 6th District candidate who was co-chair of Trump’s diversity coalition
- Former state Sen. Judson Hill, who ran unsuccessfully for Georgia’s 6th District in 2017
- Angelic Moore, a former Kemp campaign operative
- Robert Patillo, a political strategist and civil rights attorney
- Michael Steele, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was a company commander during the Somalia mission that inspired the Black Hawk Down movie
- Shelley Wynter, a talk show host
- Radio host Martha Zoller, a former aide to Kemp and to U.S. Sen. David Perdue
Here are the submissions so far:
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