Johnny Isakson up with first TV ad, and Michael Thurmond talks about race

Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson, who has more acorns stored up in his treasury than any other candidate in Georgia, went up with the first TV ad of the U.S. Senate campaign this morning.

A portion of his message — declaring that his unnamed Democratic opponent, Michael Thurmond, “supports President Obama” – is just a little taste of what Roy Barnes can expect to see in the race for governor.

But most telling in the ad is the phrase he allows suporters to use in describing his work: “He doesn’t stand on the sidelines.”

Isakson is, at bottom, a negotiator willing to attempt compromises. That involves risk. His work – with Georgia colleague Saxby Chambliss – on an immigration bill in 2007 rankled the hard-liners in the Georgia GOP. (Both ultimately denounced the effort.)

Consider this ad an attempt by Isakson to explain himself — particularly to independents.

The script:

Actor One: Some in Washington stand on the sidelines.

Actor Two: Not Johnny Isakson.

Actor Three: He’s there every day, fighting for Georgia….

Actor Four: ….our country, and our conservative values.

Actor Five: He fought to stop government health care….

Actor Two: …and the Washington liberals’ energy tax. He opposed the stimulus package….

Actor Six: ….Supports a balanced budget….

Actor Seven: His Democratic opponent supports President Obama….

Actor One: …..And his liberal agenda.

Actors Two and Eight: That’s why we’re supporting Johnny Isakson.

Actor Nine: That’s why I’m supporting Johnny Isakson. He doesn’t stand on the sidelines.

Actor One: He fights for Georgia.

Johnny Isakson: I’m Johnny Isakson, and I approve this message.


On the Democratic side of the Senate race, state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond was in Washington on Tuesday, helping the U.S. Department of Agriculture talk about race. From My AJC colleague Bob Keefe:

Just weeks after the Shirley Sherrod race scandal rattled the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Georgia Labor Commissioner and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michael Thurmond walked into a USDA employee training session on civil rights and diversity with a confession:

He used to be “suspicious” of white people.

Thurmond, an African-American, had good reason to be wary of whites, he explained. He said he never even spoke to a white person until his all-black high school near Athens was consolidated with an all-white school when he was 18.

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Michael Thurmond. AJC

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Michael Thurmond. AJC

“You know why I was suspicious? It’s because I never had a conversation with white people before — because I didn’t know any of them,” Thurmond said Tuesday in a keynote speech at the USDA’s Civil Rights Diversity and Conflict Resolution and Management Conference. “The only white friend I had was on TV — Beaver,” as in “Leave It to Beaver.”

Thurmond, 57, said his suspicions receded as he came to know more white people during his last year at Clarke Central High School in Athens.

Just like Sherrod, the former Georgia USDA official who was improperly fired after an out-of-context clip of some of her remarks was distributed by a conservative blogger to make her sound racist, Thurmond characterized his own experience with white people as a lesson on race relations.

“I went from suspicion to recognition,” said Thurmond, who is running against Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson this year. And eventually, he added, the kid who had never talked to white people grew up and got elected to Georgia’s General Assembly, becoming the first black politician in the South to be elected in a white-majority district.

“That’s evolution,” Thurmond said.

The USDA’s two-day race and diversity conference comes as it is grappling with criticism over its handling of race issues such as the Sherrod case and a class-action lawsuit in which black farmers accused the agency of discrimination in its allocation of farm loans in the 1980s and 1990s.

Clearly, the agency and many of its employees are still skittish when it comes to talking about race.

After first opening the race and diversity conference to the media, USDA officials suddenly closed it to the press less than an hour before Thurmond was set to deliver his remarks. A camera crew from C-SPAN was turned away, as were other journalists. After first being asked to leave, an AJC reporter was allowed to listen to Thurmond’s speech but was ushered out immediately after his remarks.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

27 comments Add your comment


August 11th, 2010
11:01 am

I’m voting for Senator Isakson (Republican.)

The socialist, deficit creating, stimulus home buyer credit he sponsored was wonderful.

King Roy

August 11th, 2010
11:11 am

Vote for me … I will out promise everyone!


August 11th, 2010
11:11 am

This is probably a little nuanced for most voters, but he pushed for the homebuyer tax credit, which only added to the stimulus, and then voted against it. So… yeah! He opposed Obama’s stimulus and his liberal agenda!

Jon Lester

August 11th, 2010
11:46 am

We can probably expect Thurmond’s comments to be cropped and distorted by the likes of Hannity and Breitbart.

The Goobernator

August 11th, 2010
12:04 pm

Candidates are so funny. They think voters are hard wired to accept them by tossing out the words “Conservative” and “Liberal” in the proper order and we’ll just march off to the voting booth without giving it another thought. Guess my microchip implant didn’t get programmed.

PS what orifice did he pull out the “energy tax” phrase?


August 11th, 2010
12:05 pm

“becoming the first black politician in the South to be elected in a white-majority district.” So are you saying that Thurmand was elected to the General Assembly prior to Andrew Young being elected to Congress, from a majority white district?

Any Mouse

August 11th, 2010
12:17 pm

Johnny voted Yes for the stimulus and bailout under W. Bush. Johnny only voted No under President Obama. Johnny’s spending record under a Republican president is terrible, but with a Democrat in the White House, Johnny suddenly discovers fiscal conservancy and the fact there is a huge national debt.

Johnny is sounding more like the “I voted for it before I voted against it” guy. Why does Galloway let him get away with saying he voted against it?

Where is Galloway’s mention of the other person on the ballot, Libertarian Chuck Donovan? Full disclosure journalism or not?

Johnny voted against the second

Where is the fact that Why doesn’t Jim mention the other candidate on the ballot, Libertarian Chuck Donovan?

Johnny Isakson

August 11th, 2010
12:25 pm

Yeah, I’m a real fighter: that’s why I dodged Vietnam by joining the Air National Guard with my “good buddy,” the draft-dodging, closet-queen George W. Bush, and later supported his committing 9/11 to send the sons and daughters of Georgia’s “unwashed” to Afghanistan and Iraq to die for Big Oil and the Saudi royals, whose hands George, and his Rockefeller masters, loves to hold.

The Goobernator

August 11th, 2010
12:35 pm

Thanks Any Mouse, exactly what I needed to read!


August 11th, 2010
1:38 pm

Enter your comments here


August 11th, 2010
1:39 pm

Let’s help get rid of Johnnnie “Bad Boy” Issakson!!!


August 11th, 2010
1:43 pm



August 11th, 2010
1:56 pm

Thurmond has my vote. Isakson has no principals given his voting record. But looking into that is too much to ask of robots programmed to pull the Republican lever.


August 11th, 2010
2:34 pm

Thurmond a nice guy? Maybe.
Vote for him? No way. A vote for Thurmond is a vote for Obama, Pelosi and Reid. A vote for Thurmond is a vote against liberty, free enterprise and a nation of opportunity. Thurmond is the candidate of the big government statists who would walk away from a nation of liberty for an elistist vision of government handouts for all. A vote for Mike Thurmond is a vote for even more spending, more debt and eventually much higher taxes.

richard Whetstone

August 11th, 2010
3:09 pm

Republicans seem to think that the voting public has amnesia. We remember which president and party brought this country to the blink of a depression. We remember which administration ,with the enabling of the Republicans in the House and Senate, allowed virtually every branch of the Federal government to work with too few staff; this resulted the total disregard for needed regulations. We remember the President who falsified evidence of WMD’s to take this country into a war that has cost thousands of Americans and million of Iraqi lives; in addition, this war of choice is projected to cost between 2 to 3 trillions dollars after all of the costs are added.

For the past 18 months Isakson has voted in lockstep with the Republicans in the Senate to opposed every measure designed to help working and middle class citizens of Georgia. His complaints about these programs cannot stand up to an honest appraisal of their purposes and results. He deserted Georgia during on the worst economic time this state has experienced. In November I urged all sensible Georgians to desert him.


August 11th, 2010
3:24 pm

Richard: what is “the blink of a depression”?

Anywho, Isakson has voted to prevent the socialist Obama agenda from moving forward. Richard, if you agree with socialism, running up the deficit, and Obamacare, then by all means vote for Thurmond.

Oh Well

August 11th, 2010
3:29 pm

for those that take talking points from media and self-proclaimed “experts” on talk radio (read here ENTERTAINMENT) know this…
Isakson is for Isakson every time.

Ironic how when he got sick and needed physician care – he got the best in the world…but for little minions…he’ll vote against you every time.

at the end of the day, it’s not about the “party” – it’s about their bank accounts & perks that they get at your expense!

want to be really fiscally conservative? take away their salaries and perks to the bare minimum…let them really SERVE the people!


August 11th, 2010
3:30 pm

“Anywho, Isakson has voted to prevent the socialist Obama agenda from moving forward. ”

Lol! Isakson voted for the king of all “socialist” programs, Medicare Part D.

Dirty Dawg

August 11th, 2010
3:44 pm

Johnny Isakson sold his soul when he went to Washington…the once great, maybe even statesmanlike, politician has made a blood oath or something to toe the Republican line of making sure nothing positive happens under a Democratic Administration or Congress, and the country and the state has suffered for it. I used to think this was one of the finest men I knew, but he has shown that even the finest can succumb to the greed once the stakes get high enough.

So here’s hoping that enough of those that will be voting in November will, finally, come to appreciate that Republicans are only interested in money and power – for them and their corporate bosses and send ‘em packing. This country’s too young to die, which is where we’re end up with the GOP (Greed, Obstruction, Prejudice) in charge.

Bobby Anthony

August 11th, 2010
5:51 pm

I plan to vote for Thurmond. He has been an ardent supporter of vocational education in this state. He is an active supporter of GACTE. I also plan to vote for Deal!

Georgia Republicans for Roy Barnes

August 11th, 2010
6:01 pm

I am voting for Roy Barnes and I am undercided with Isakson…Deal is corrupted.


August 11th, 2010
7:44 pm

Well at least he got paid a lot of money for selling his soul. He got about 8-12 million dollars in his bank account. A little bit more than 16 pieces of Silver for selling us all out. Then he voted against Unemployment Benefits, for the Workers. What a Jerk!!!


August 12th, 2010
1:11 am

Calvin: Isakson made all his money by building up his family business before he ever went to Washington; you’re implying, wrongly, that he got bought off there. He voted against unemployment benefits that borrowed money against the deficit to fund them. He voted FOR the unemployment benefits that were “paid for”. I think we all can agree that borrowing money to pay unemployment benefits is a bad idea, but don’t let the facts get in the way of your inane argument.

Dawg, it takes two to tango. Maybe if the Obama Administration had an idea that was worth a damn, he’d vote to support them. You must be one of the 22% of Americans who think Obama is doing a good job.


August 12th, 2010
3:41 am

Isakson fought against gov’t healthcare, fighting against an energy tax, fought against the stimulus bill, fights for a balanced budget.

First, it sounds like ol’ Johnny’s a loser. He might fight, but he’s weak & often loses. That’s the problem when one skates through a primary.

Second, how vocal was he against Bush during the Medicare Part D welfare expansion? Where was he when Bush signed the first stimulus? Where was Isakson when Bush was running up huge deficits himself?

It sounds to me like Johnny Isakson’s conservative values are rooted moreso in political posturing than “fighting for Georgia.” To me, conservative values means limited government. Isn’t he in favor of illegal aliens living here? I know how he voted, but he had to have his arm twisted to do so.

Some in Washington stand on the sidelines. Johnny’s there every day, fighting for himself & won’t listen to Georgians unless we protest outside his office. I’m Johnny Isakson, and I approve this message


August 12th, 2010
9:39 am

Williams: My friend my complaint with Johnnie is that he did not fulfill his role and “advise” and consent. He only obstructed. You tell a drowning man that you can use the rope because its not yours. Instead you have to go to the store ten miles downn the road and buy your own rope to save him. That doesn’t makes sense.

At the same time your argue for another 750 billion dollar tax cut for the richest 1-2% of the population. Who by the way are still sitting on the 3 trillion tax cuts they recieved under Pres. Bush and are just watching the rest of us gulp for air instead of invested it to get the economy moving.

I am talking about the 8-12 million dollars that Johnnnie “Bad Boy:” Issakkson has in his war chest to campaign on to try and buy the election. I am not talking about his personal wealth.

Yes, I do support Pres. Obama. He is the President of the United States. He has some ideas. He has shown a willingness to have his ideas refined by better ideas. Both Pres. Bush and Obama saved Wall Street when they were about to go under. For that rescue they have turned their backs on the American public and are just complaining for another huge tax cut. By the was that is not paid for.

Pres. Obama is President of the United States. He does not deserve to be undermined in the fashion that the Republi-STANKS have been trying just simply to regain POWER. That is UN-AMERICAN. Let’s ban together to help elect MICAHEL THURMOND as the next JUNIOR SENATOR from the GREAT STATE OF GEORGIA.


thank you.


August 13th, 2010
11:46 am

Says the referendum is on the incumbant Senator Johnny Iaskson.
For education, why does he still support No Child Left Behind Act?
Since the bill was signed into law, more students has dropped out of school.

Asks why did he support the bailouts for the banks in 2008, while peoples homes are being forclosed?

Asks why did he support jobs being outsoursed from Georgia & the other states by voting for CAFTA?

Joshua Tyree Merchant

September 14th, 2010
2:35 pm

Why didn’t Johnny Isakson say where he went to HIGH SCHOOL at in his Biography it would had helped people to know somewhat about him and what kind of DEGREE he earned from HIGH SCHOOL; plus what sport he played in HIGH SCHOOL ALSO. WHAT KIND OF IDIOT WOULD NOT PUT WHAT SCHOOL HE WENT TO ON HIS BIOGRAPHY IN THE FIRST PLACE.