Tight presidential race affects Georgia’s Senate contest

Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson (left) and Democrat challenger Jim Barksdale (right)
Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson (left) and Democrat challenger Jim Barksdale (right)

ATLANTA (AP) — Johnny Isakson heads into the final days of the Georgia U.S. Senate race with a comfortable lead. But the Republican incumbent still needs to avoid a nine-week runoff election.

Isakson faces Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley on Nov. 8. The three-way field and the unexpectedly tight presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Georgia is complicating Isakson’s bid for a third term.

An average of public polls shows Isakson leading by 11 percentage points but he hasn’t crossed 50 percent. State law requires a runoff if no candidate wins more than 50 percent in November.

Isakson’s reputation for working across party lines won over some non-Republican voters in previous campaigns. Barksdale is trying to prevent that by ramping up criticism of Isakson’s continued support for Trump.