Tim Echols, member of the Georgia Public Service Commission. AJC file
Photo: Jim Galloway/Political Insider blog
Photo: Jim Galloway/Political Insider blog

Quest for Kemp’s support leads to new phase in Georgia Senate race 

Let the public jockeying begin

Up until now, there’s been a reluctance among potential appointees to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Johnny Isakson to speak publicly about their chances. Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols has ended that. 

After Gov. Brian Kemp invited contenders to apply online, the Republican became one of the first to submit his application.

And Echols, who has admitted in notes to donors he’s a long shot contender, has taken to the airwaves and to social media to tout his chances. 

“If @GovKemp wants a seasoned fighter, he should pick @RepDougCollins,” Echols tweeted this morning, mentioning the conservative congressman who is seen as a top contender for the appointment.   

“If he needs someone who can run 4 statewide campaigns in 2 years & bring in grassroots campaigners to knock doors, he might take a look at yours truly. Honored to have received the most votes of all time in GA.”

More: Lucy McBath passes on Johnny Isakson’s Senate seat

More: Georgia Senate: Who has applied for Isakson’s seat

More: Online ‘help wanted’ sign sets off Senate scramble in Georgia

That open maneuvering comes with a risk. It could turn off Kemp and his advisers, particularly if they feel like they’re being pressured. The open angling can – and has – also upset other Republicans and puts a target on his back for Democrats.

Echols might feel he has nothing to lose. He has not been viewed as a serious contender for the job by anyone close to Kemp, and the governor told WSB on Thursday that the Echols wasn’t on his radar: 

“Tim’s a statewide elected official, so he’s got a statewide base out there. I wasn’t aware that he would have been interested before this process, so there you go.” 

He also may see it as a way to raise his profile. Echols’ four-page resume included a list of his accomplishments in the public and private sector, as well as a mention that he owned three electric vehicles.

Contrast Echols’ exuberance with the relative silence from other would-be U.S. senators, who are mostly not speaking publicly about their ambitions.

That includes Collins, R-Gainesville, who submitted his application on Thursday but has declined to elaborate. 

Others have remained just as tight-lipped. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who would also be a top contender if he applies, hasn’t commented. But his youngest son, Ryder Duncan, tweeted a picture of himself in a suit: “I think I’d do a really good job as a US Senator ... just sayin’.”

Insider’s note: This item was ripped from the Daily Jolt.

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.

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.