March 29, 2018 - Atlanta, Ga: Sen. Michael 'Doc' Rhett, D-Marietta, gets a photograph with Gov. Nathan Deal after Gov. Deal addressed the senate during his last Sine Die during Legislative Day 40 at the Georgia State Capitol Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Atlanta. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Photo: Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz

Democratic state senator applies for U.S. Senate seat

A Marietta Democratic lawmaker has added his name to the growing list of those asking for a U.S. Senate appointment.

Georgia Sen. Michael “Doc” Rhett appears to be the first state Democratic elected official to apply for the seat being vacated by the retirement of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Rhett on Tuesday submitted his application after Gov. Brian Kemp called for those interested to apply online.

Rhett said he prides himself on being able to work with Republicans on issues. A U.S. Air Force veteran who now teaches adult education with the Cobb County School System, Rhett said he would view serving in the U.S. Senate as the next step in his life of public service.

“I’m still trying to find a way to serve community and country,” he said. “We need more colleagues who are able to work across the aisle and follow the leadership of Sen. Johnny Isakson.”

Rhett clashed with his Democratic colleagues earlier this year when Republicans nominated him to lead the Cobb County delegation. The delegation last year flipped from majority Republican to majority Democrat for the first time in recent memory.

Democrats agreed to support state Rep. David Wilkerson, a Powder Springs Democrat. But when Republicans offered Rhett’s name as an alternative, Cobb Democrats walked out of the delegation meeting in protest.

Democrats accused him of working with Republicans to help them maintain control of the delegation. Rhett at the time said thought “it would be nice” for the delegation to have two Democrats seeking the chairmanship.

Wilkerson ended up being elected chairman.

Whoever Kemp picks will face a 2020 election to fill the remaining two years on Isakson’s term — and then a 2022 election for a full six-year term.

Kemp has not signaled when he will fill the seat or even when the online application process will end.

If he’s not selected to replace Isakson, Rhett said he plans to remain in the state Senate.

In 2014, Rhett was the first black lawmaker to be elected to the state Senate from Cobb County. He is currently serving his third term.

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