ATLANTA (AP) — The son of former U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman is the first Democrat to enter the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
Matt Lieberman’s announcement Thursday says he’s running because he’s “fed up with the do-nothing politicians who care more about getting re-elected than governing.”
A special election will be held in November 2020 for the last two years of Isakson’s third term. The 74-year-old senator previously announced he will retire in December because of health issues.
Lieberman will likely be one of many candidates in the free-for-all, no-primary race, including whomever Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appoints to the post until the election is held. Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia will also be on the ballot in 2020, seeking a second term. The two Senate contests have sealed Georgia’s status as a must-watch 2020 battleground.
A 52-year-old business owner from the Atlanta suburbs, Lieberman is a political novice with little name recognition outside of what he’s lent by his father, a centrist lawmaker from Connecticut who ran as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000. “The people of Georgia deserve representatives that will fight the NRA, stand up for reproductive rights, and support policies to ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health care,” Lieberman said.
He made the announcement without the backing of party leaders, who are currently vetting candidates they hope Democrats can rally behind. Prominent Democrats considering a bid include state Sen. Jen Jordan and DeKalb County chief executive and 2010 Democratic Senate candidate Michael Thurmond.
Kemp has opened an unusual online application process to vet potential candidates, receiving inquiries from more than 500 would-be senators in a few weeks.
Former GOP congressman Jack Kingston of Savannah announced he also submitted an application Thursday to Kemp seeking appointment to the seat.
Kingston represented his southeast Georgia House district from 1993 to 2015, but lost a GOP runoff for Senate in 2014 to Sen. David Perdue.
With a congressional impeachment inquiry looming, Kingston said he has “aggressively defended President Trump at every turn” and “spent 30 years taking on the Democrats’ misguided agenda.”
Other top Republican applicants include U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Georgia House, Jan Jones.
In Georgia’s other Senate race, four Democrats have already announced bids against Perdue. They are former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff; 2018 Lt. Gov. candidate Sarah Riggs Amico; former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry.