In the Senate race, Lieberman is looking to build on Democrat Stacey Abrams’s near-victory over former Georgia secretary of state Brian Kemp (R) in the 2018 gubernatorial election. Lieberman wrote on his campaign website that Abrams’s loss was a “questionable election result” and called for a new Voting Rights Act.
Abrams’ ability to draw Democratic voters to the polls proved Georgia is now nearly “dead-center purple” — an even split of Republicans and Democrats — Lieberman told The Washington Post. Abrams won 48.8 percent of the vote, while Kemp earned 50.2 percent.
“Her success was built upon her success the prior two years in activating almost a million new voters,” Lieberman said. “And what that has done is change the political map in Georgia.”
Democrats face a difficult road next year to wrest control of the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-to-47 majority. In addition to Isakson’s position, 22 GOP-held seats and 12 Democratic-held seats are up for grabs.
Georgia is among the states with the highest chances of flipping parties next year. As The Post’s Amber Phillips previously reported:
Georgia is another traditionally Republican state where a star Democratic candidate recently reshaped strategists’ views. Even though she didn’t win, Stacey Abrams’s gubernatorial race revealed the partisan makeup of Georgia, shifting it slightly less red.
Lieberman, who runs a health-care consulting business, is a single father of two daughters. He holds a law degree from Yale University and once worked as a teacher.
His announcement comes while Georgia is a focal point in the national debate over abortion. Georgia this spring passed a ban on abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the law from taking effect Jan. 1 while a legal challenge plays out.
Lieberman plans to make abortion rights, as well as voting rights and gun laws, top issues in his campaign. They are “important issues everywhere,” he said, but all recently have been common conversation topics in his state.
“They have particular impact and sting here in Georgia right now, so I’m focusing on those right out of the gate,” he said.
Lieberman said he expected his father, who was an independent by the end of his career, to serve as a role model and an informal adviser to his campaign.
“He is a good and wise and decent person,” Lieberman said. “I think even many people who came to disagree with him on issues would concede that he always treated people with decency and led his career with integrity.”
The last Democrat to hold a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia was Zell Miller, who served from 2000 to 2005.
Isakson, 74, was reelected to a third term in 2016. In addition to living with Parkinson’s disease, he was hospitalized in July after a fall in his Washington apartment. He later had surgery to remove a renal cell carcinoma from one of his kidneys.
Kemp is likely to appoint a Republican to take Isakson’s seat in 2020 and has created an online portal to solicit applications, which are public. The winner of the no-primary special election will serve the last two years of Isakson’s term.
Georgia voters will have the chance to choose two senators next fall, as the state’s other senator, Republican David Perdue, is running for a second term. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote for Isakson’s seat, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff election in January 2021.
Abrams has said she will not seek Isakson’s seat.