Calling all procrastinators: Monday is the last day for would-be Washingtonians to apply with Gov. Brian Kemp for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat.
More than 500 Georgians have heeded Kemp’s call for the position since September, when he made the unusual decision to post an online “help wanted” sign for the position.
The list is dotted with big names — including current and former officeholders, business executives, a U.S. ambassador, decorated military veterans and radio commentators. A Democratic state legislator has even applied.
And with the deadline fast approaching, two other top contenders have raised their hand: Robyn Crittenden, who runs the state’s largest agency; and Allen Poole, a former county commissioner and Kemp deputy.
The rest of the applicants for the seat, which will open at year’s end when Isakson steps down for health reasons, are a snapshot of Georgia: schoolteachers and social workers, physicians and farmers, mechanics and managers.
Aside from Crittenden and Poole, other top potential contenders are U.S. Rep. Doug Collins; state Rep. Jan Jones, the No. 2 Republican in the Georgia House; Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton and Jackie Gingrich Cushman, an author and fiscal analyst who is the daughter of the former House speaker.
Kemp has said he launched the online process because he wanted to ensure he considers a range of Georgians for the high-profile position, though his advisers have likely had a small group of potential contenders from the get-go.
Applicants must only submit a resume, address and contact information on the governor office’s website. There’s no request for a cover letter, a mission statement, a letter of reference or a policy paper.
Each applicant must also meet the three requirements set out in the U.S. Constitution: Candidates must be 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years and a resident of Georgia.
Almost as notable are the potentially strong candidates who have stayed on the sidelines, either because it would be politically damaging for them to apply or they’re flat-out not interested.
Among them are Attorney General Chris Carr, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel and U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, who are each not expected to submit their applications.
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, when Kemp will seek a second term.
There’s also a chance of a January 2021 runoff if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, a distinct possibility in a “jungle” special election when multiple contenders from all parties are on the same ballot.
Meanwhile, Georgia Democrats haven’t moved much faster on finding someone to run against Kemp’s choice in 2020. No high-profile politician has yet jumped in the race, partly because many are waiting for party leaders to bless a favorite.
The only candidate in the race so far is Matt Lieberman, the son of former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who announced his Senate campaign last month without support from the party establishment.
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.