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Did Roy Barnes' Statement That He Will Vote For Isakson Hurt Thurmond’s Campaign?

by Amanda Smith

During his Atlanta Press Club debate with Nathan Deal on October 31, 2010, former Governor Roy Barnes was asked if there were any Republicans that he would vote for in the upcoming election. Barnes stated that he might vote for Johnny Isakson in Isakson’s bid to keep his seat in the U.S. Senate. Isakson's opponent in the Senate was Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. Barnes' answer came as a surprise to many voters and caused a negative stir throughout the Democratic Party.

ron klein

Michael Thurmond

Though Barnes changed his mind and stated the following day that he would vote for Thurmond in the upcoming election, one can only wonder if his former statement about Isakson did Thurmond some damage in this pivotal election. Democrats running for election lost across the board in Georgia on November 2nd, including Barnes, who will see Nathan Deal replace Perdue in the open Governor’s seat.

"I think that Barnes' statement had an effect on Thurmond's campaign and it is clear that our former Governor was not working on behalf of the statewide Democratic ticket in this election," said State Representative David Lucas.

Isakson garnered 59% of the votes on Election Day; Thurmond received 39%.

State Senator Robert Brown spoke in more general terms about Barnes' comment. "I think that anything that is negative has the potential to hurt a candidate in a race, especially from someone with credibility," said Brown.

Michael Thurmond believes that the statement hurt Barnes as much as it did himself. "In the end, I think it hurt him and it hurt me. Many of my supporters said they did not vote for Governor Barnes as a result of it," he said.

Thurmond lost his bid for the Senate seat by 200,000 votes

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Roy Barnes