Democratic nominee for governor Roy Barnes on Monday backed off any hint that he would vote for Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson in the U.S. Senate race – in a final-day attempt to quell expressions of dismay from supporters Michael Thurmond, the Democratic candidate for Senate.
“Roy is going to support the ticket, and will be voting for Michael Thurmond tomorrow,” said Emil Runge, spokesman for the Barnes campaign.
We understand that Barnes and Thurmond are to meet this evening at the finale of a statewide fly-around at Peachtree-DeKalb airport. And that Thurmond might even introduce the former governor – after peace is made.
In a telephone interview this afternoon, Thurmond – who is African-American — said that black voters were “livid” over an answer Barnes gave in the course of last night’s Atlanta Press Club debate, televised statewide by Georgia Public Broadcasting. Deal had asked Barnes whether he would consider voting for any Republican on Tuesday’s ballot.
From the Associated Press:
Barnes said he might vote for Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson in his bid for a second term. Isakson is facing state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, the highest-profile African-American on the ballot in the state this fall.
“I haven’t made up my mind in that race yet,” Barnes said.
If nothing else, the statement could be read as giving other white Democrats permission to support Isakson – who already does well on that count.
“I’ve had five or six calls from people who say they’re going to vote for John Monds,” Thurmond said. Monds is the Libertarian candidate in the governor’s race, and is also African-American.
Thurmond said voters who contacted him saw Barnes’ remarks as “part of a pattern.” In Florida, Democrats are already having to deal with a backlash over reports that former President Bill Clinton tried to talk Kendrick Meek, who is black, out of the race for U.S. Senate – in order to push Democratic voters to Gov. Charlie Crist.
Barnes and Isakson are both from Cobb County and considered friendly. But Thurmond – the vice chairman of the state Democratic party — was encouraged to run for U.S. Senate, at least in part, as a means of limiting Isakson’s influence over the rest of the GOP ballot.
Before the Barnes campaign issued the statement at the top of this post, I asked a miffed Thurmond if he would be voting for Barnes on Tuesday, His response could only be characterized as Handelesque: “I’m going to support the ticket,” he said.