He described his rise from poverty as a living testament to the American dream.
“Through faith and hard work all things are possible,” Thurmond said.
Thurmond was expected to run for lieutenant governor, but he was under pressure from Democratic Party officials to get into the Senate race.
“I talked to people in Washington, but they did not recruit me,” Thurmond said.
It will be difficult to beat Isakson, a popular Republican in a Republican-dominated state. But Democrats hope Thurmond’s name at the top of the November ticket will be a huge draw for African-American voters, who make up about half of the Democratic electorate in Georgia. If black voters turn out in large numbers, it could be a huge benefit to other Democrats running for office.
Isakson said Wednesday that he is organized in all 159 Georgia counties and is prepared to aggressively campaign for a second term.
“Georgians will get to choose whether they want someone who represents their conservative values or someone who will push the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda of government health care, cap and trade taxes, skyrocketing debt, auto bailouts, government takeover of student loans, jobless stimulus packages, terrorist trials in U.S. courts and forced unionization of private-sector employees by repealing their secret ballot," Isakson said in a written statement.
Isakson, who has been campaigning for more than a year, has raised nearly $7 million for his re-election and expects to have about $5 million in cash on hand at the end of April.