Search for Democratic challenger to Isakson continues

The quest to find a Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson continues as another potential candidate has decided against a run.

Michael Sterling, a former adviser to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed who now heads the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, informed his staff in a weekly newsletter Friday that he won’t pursue a Washington bid.

Sterling, a relatively unknown former federal prosecutor, is the latest potential candidate to pass on the chance to challenge the Republican titan.

Sterling declined comment for this story, but in an internal memo obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote to his staff: "It is certainly an incredible opportunity and deep honor to be considered in such regard. After much thought, prayer and consideration, I have decided to stay right here at AWDA with you."

The state party has struggled to find a credible and willing challenger to Isakson, who is seeking a third term after disclosing in June that he has Parkinson's disease.

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin aren’t interested in a bid. Nor is former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter. The Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, also decided against a run earlier this year.

They’re no doubt aware of their political odds. Isakson has both a sizable war chest and bipartisan support. He’s a regular at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church and has won the praise of many Georgia Democrats.

The state party will need to secure a challenger by March.