Three senior Georgia Democrats have spurned their party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate, instead opting to back Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson’s bid for a third term this fall.
Federal campaign finance filings show former Gov. Roy Barnes and his wife both quietly donated the maximum $2,700 to Isakson’s campaign committee earlier this summer. Ex-U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn gave Isakson’s campaign $500 in May, according to the federal disclosures.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, said Thursday that he planned to vote for Isakson.
“I’ve always voted for Johnny Isakson. He’s my friend. He’s my partner,” Scott told WXIA. “And I always look out for my partners.”
The news is a blow to Democrat Jim Barksdale, a political newcomer who’s looking to build momentum and name recognition against Isakson.
Both Barnes and Nunn cited their longtime friendships with Isakson when contacted Thursday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Johnny and Dianne have been friends of ours since we were young and served in the General Assembly together,” Barnes said in a brief interview. “I am a Democrat and I have nothing ill to say about his opponent, but Johnny is our friend.” Both he and Isakson have been the dominant forces in Cobb County politics since the 1980s.
Nunn said Isakson “is an effective public servant and has been my friend for many years.”
Dave Hoffman, Barksdale’s campaign manager, said recent polling has Republicans “scrambling” to attack his candidate.
“Multiple polls this week show that Georgia’s U.S. Senate race is at single digits, and it’s no surprise Republicans are scrambling in order to address the strength of Jim Barksdale’s outsider candidacy,” Hoffman said.
“As Senator Isakson said last week, it doesn’t matter what size check one writes, it’s about working to earn the job for the next six years — a job that Senator Isakson has refused to do considering his silence at 71 percent of his Senate Commerce Committee hearings.”
A recent poll from Landmark/Rosetta Stone and Channel 2 Action News had Barksale within 5 percentage points of the incumbent. A Survey USA-WXIA poll of 570 likely voters, meanwhile, put Isakson 9 percentage points ahead.
Recent federal campaign finance filings show another unexpected donor to Isakson’s campaign: Cass Sunstein, who spent three years in the Obama White House and is married to United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power. The legal scholar gave Isakson $500.
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Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.