Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., flanked by Rep. Buddy Carter R-Ga., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., right, leads a meeting with the Georgia Ports Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers to request full funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in the 2020 federal budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Photo: HANDOUT/The Associated Press
Photo: HANDOUT/The Associated Press

Georgia Senate: Who has applied for Isakson’s seat

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, nearly 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.

Kemp and his advisers are well aware of a small pool of top contenders, including statewide officials and influential lawmakers. But his aides hope the process can help identify unconventional candidates he might seriously consider. 

The public nature of the process has led some potential contenders, including U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, to opt out. It’s also cleared the way for many others - some legit, most long-shot - to formally declare their interest. 

"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.

Related: Matt Lieberman, son of former VP nominee, runs for Isakson’s Senate seat 

Related: Who’s challenging U.S. Sen. David Perdue in 2020?

More: Online ‘help wanted’ sign sets off Senate scramble in Georgia
MoreThe shadow campaign for Isakson's Senate seat 

MoreGeorgia’s casting call for Senate candidates draws unorthodox contenders

Here’s our updated list of some of the highest-profile candidates who have applied:

- Former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins

- 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.  

- Former U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who resigned as Trump’s health secretary after an expense scandal 

Here are some other noteworthy names:

- 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:

Sept. 17:

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Oct. 6:

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.