Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Johnny Isakson cruises to third term in U.S. Senate

Johnny Isakson, a towering figure in Georgia’s Republican Party after more than four decades in elected office, easily secured a third term in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

Multiple news outlets called the race at roughly 9:20 p.m.

The onetime real estate company president bested Democrat Jim Barksdale, an Atlanta investment manager who was a political unknown before he entered the race in March, following a sleepy contest that made few ripples during this acrimonious presidential election year.

Isakson, who will be 72 next month, managed to avoid what would have been a costly nine-week runoff, since Libertarian Allen Buckley was not able to peel off a large enough percentage of the vote.

“I could never thank you enough for the support you’ve given me, but I can repay by being the best man I can be in the United States Senate and deliver conservative principles to Georgia every single day,” Isakson, flanked by his family and prominent GOP allies, told hundreds assembled at a GOP watch party in Buckhead Tuesday evening.

Barksdale conceded to Isakson in a brief phone call shortly after the Republican was declared the winner.

In a short speech to supporters in downtown Atlanta, Barksdale said he had been inspired by the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“It’s not so important to realize our dreams. What’s important is that we try,” he said. Barksdale added, “What matters is that our heart’s in the right place.”

In an interview with our colleague Bo Emerson, Buckley called the contest's results "discouraging."

Isakson commanded control of the race for its duration. After demolishing two little-known primary opponents in May, only at one point this summer did the race truly appear to be competitive.

Read our full take here. 

Updated vote totals for the Georgia Senate race

Check back to Political Insider throughout election night for updates.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.