Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson and Democratic nominee Jim Barksdale discovered something in common last week besides each winning his respective primary without a runoff. They both are ignoring Libertarian Allen Buckley.
Friday, Buckley sent letters to both and released a copy of it to InsiderAdvantage challenging them to six, one-hour debates. The proposal would begin weekly debates in mid-September.
If the three candidates could not agree on the topics, Buckley said the media should decide.
However, the response has been non-existent so far.
“Please note that I or a campaign-team member has already left two unreturned voicemail messages for and sent two unanswered emails to the Barksdale campaign,” Buckley’s letter said.
A request from InsiderAdvantage for a comment from the Democratic nominee’s campaign and from the spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia each went unanswered as well.
Isakson’s campaign spokeswoman, Marie Gordon, sent a one-sentence reply. “Senator Isakson looks forward to participating in the Atlanta Press Club debate this fall,” she wrote in an email.
Isakson did not participate in the APC primary debate which was held with just his two Republican challengers, Derrick Grayson and Mary Kay Bacallao.
Barksdale did participate in the APC primary debate with the other two Democratic hopefuls, Cheryl Copeland and John Coyne. Barksdale told APC volunteers it was his first debate ever.
No date has been set for the APC’s general election debate which usually occurs in late October and is aired statewide on Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Buckley is baffled by Barksdale’s hesitancy since the challengers would have an opportunity for a two-man attack if Isakson submits to the debates.
“I assume his strategy is to get to a runoff and then hope for the best. Not returning my calls and emails does not endear me to him,” Buckley said.
Regarding Isakson’s thinking, the Libertarian nominee freely speculates.
“I think Isakson wants to hide from his record and run ads calling him ‘conservative.’ The Conservative Review gives him a 34(F),” Buckley said. “I think he’s in the 50s in the Heritage conservatism calculation. He’s also telling young people that they need to get involved, as we have a $19 trillion debt — telling them to avoid getting their pockets picked. Never mind that he voted for $7 trillion+ of it.”
Buckley issued a news release Friday highlighting Conservative Review’s downgrading of Isakson’s score. It said the senator supported multiple bailouts, including subsidies for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, votes Buckley attributes to Isakson’s real-estate background. The magazine also notes that Isakson was a key sponsor of the No Child Left Behind education program of the George W. Bush administration and supports Common Core.
Buckley is making his third try at the Senate. He was the Libertarian nominee in 2004 and 2008. In ’08, he forced Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss into a runoff with Democrat Jim Martin.