Despite the wishful thinking of some, there will be plenty of choices for voters when it comes to the November special election to fill the remaining term of former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

In the world of reality, that’s how it should be.

After Isakson, one of our state’s most respected officials, resigned due to health reasons, it allowed Gov. Brian Kemp the opportunity to appoint someone to the position, bypassing Georgia voters in the process. A special election will still be held to fill the remainder of the term, but Kelly Loeffler, Kemp’s choice, has the power of “incumbency” even though she has yet to be elected to anything by the voters in Georgia.

While many speak negatively about those who hold office, it’s amazing how many simply vote for the incumbent.

Some inside GOP circles didn’t want anyone else in the party challenging Loeffler in the special election, which will be Nov. 3. The “jungle election” will feature all candidates on the ballot at once with no party primaries leading up to the November vote.

There are those who believe that Loeffler deserved to have no other Republican enter the race. Despite that, it has also been an interesting few months leading into qualifying last week.

While Loeffler was the choice of our state’s governor, there were reports that President Trump wanted Congressman Doug Collins appointed to the seat. Kemp went against Trump’s wishes and appointed Loeffler, who has no political experience at all.

In an odd, although not completely shocking, move, President Trump is now a big fan of Loeffler and seems to have shunned Collins. President Trump tried to keep Collins out of the contest by offering him another role, a consolation prize perhaps, but the northeast Georgia politician declined that opportunity.

After Trump’s visit to Atlanta late last week, Loeffler (along with her billionaire husband) were flown by the president to Florida to meet some of his top financial donors. It seems President Trump has no further use for Collins.

Some backers of Collins wanted to change the rules of this race and have a primary set. This would have prevented a civil war among Republicans in November but Kemp was opposed to that idea from the start, saying he would veto the bill if it reached his desk. It never did so Kemp didn’t have to use the power of veto.

Collins officially qualified for the race last week. It’s ironic that some didn’t want Republican infighting for fear it might allow a Democrat to take the coveted seat.

As it turns out, Collins wasn’t the only Republican to quality. Four other Republicans (other than Collins and Loeffler) also signed up for the race, including network engineer Derrick Grayson; businesswoman Annette Davis Jackson; business executive A. Wayne Johnson and educator Kandiss Taylor.

Eight Democrats are in the race, including attorney Deborah Jackson; Air Force veteran and business woman Jamesia James; advocate Tamara Johnson-Shealey; Matt Lieberman (son of former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman); physician Joy Felecia Slade; attorney Ed Tarver; pastor Raphael Warnock and University of Georgia professor Richard Dien Winfield.

Libertarian Brian Slowinski, who once ran for Congress from the 11th District as a Republican, is running. In addition, independents Al Bartell (a business consultant), Allen Buckley (a lawyer, accountant and former Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate), Michael Todd Greene (a former educator) and Valencia Stovall (a business owner) will also be on the ballot. Green Party candidate John Fortuin joined the race on the final qualifying day and will be on the ballot.

Georgia voters will have their choice from 21 total candidates for the seat. Choice is always a good thing although some in political circles were hoping for less choice. That goes for some Democrats who wanted the race cleared so Warnock could benefit from more than one Republican being in the race and some Republicans who wanted Loeffler to be the lone GOP choice.

With this many candidates on the ballot at once a runoff is a certainty. Candidates will have eight months to make their case to the voters. That goes as well for Loeffler, who has done very little since being appointed to the coveted political position unless you count making television commercials bragging on supporting President Trump and being against abortion.

Frankly, those are positions any Republican would all but likely take. It’s similar to being asked by your boss to detail your work accomplishments and you mention “showing up for work.”

Political civil wars are typically fun to watch and we are about to see one unfold in this event. Loeffler will have to work hard to get the stamp of approval from Georgia voters. Sometimes that’s an easier said task than done.

A poll conducted by the University of Georgia (prior to qualifying) showed Collins with a slim overall lead in the race, followed by Loeffler and Lieberman.

And if those 20 candidates don’t do it for you, there is always Rod Mack, a member of the Board of Appeals for the City of Hapeville, who qualified as an official write-in candidate. An official write-in candidate means votes for the candidate will officially count and be recorded.

This is going to be fun to watch.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor for the Barrow News-Journal. You can email comments about this column to

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