Fri., October 8, 2010 6:14pm (EDT)

Michael Thurmond's Seemingly Low Key Campaign for U.S. Senate
By Susanna Capelouto
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Updated: 4 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson is seeking re-election this year. The Republican is showing over 50 percent in all recent polls, a comfortable lead over his Democratic challenger Michael Thurmond. Susanna Capelouto reports, Thurmond’s campaign has been low key.

When Michael Thurmond announced this spring that he’d run for the U.S. Senate it was an emotional scene at the state capitol. He talked about growing up as the son of a sharecropper in Clarke County and living in a country where his poor background does not preclude him for running for the U.S. Senate.

“That speaks to the greatness of our Georgia. It speaks to the greatness of America. And I’m a living breathing testament that the American Dream is alive and well.”

Once Thurmond qualified for the U.S. Senate race it seemed that he left the spotlight says Tom Crawford, editor of the Georgia Report. In fact Crawford recently described Thurmond as the invisible man of Georgia politics.

"You know usually you get a lot of e-mails from candidates talking about campaign events or speeches or news events. I have gotten none of that from the Michael Thurmond campaign, but if you asked me what he was doing, I couldn’t honestly tell you."

That might be because his opponent Johnny Isakson has almost 8 million dollars in his campaign fund, while Thurmond has raised just about 130 thousand dollars.

“I’m out; I’m an old fashioned stump politician."

Without much money to appear on TV Thurmond says he’s meeting people. He says Georgians have known him for 20 years first as a state legislator, and now as state labor commissioner.

"I talk to people on an ongoing basis all over the state, big city small cities urban, rural suburban. People are fully engaged. In this campaign, they’re concerned about the issues and I’m convinced they’re going to vote and they’re going to vote in large numbers."

The largest number of voters this year, however, are expected to be Republicans.

And it appears that Johnny Isakson is all but ignoring his opponent. His latest TV add mentions the nations most powerful Democrats.

But there is no mention of Michael Thurmond. Johnny Isakson says he’s never run an attack add and is not trying to tie Thurmond to the President or the agenda of other Democrats.

"Well I don’t know what my opponent’s agenda is, so therefore I’m trying to talk about what I’ve done in the U.S. senate. I think the voters are very interested in anybody trying to find out what the issues are of the day."

Neither Isakson nor Thurmond will say anything bad about each other. Editor Tom Crawford says Thurmond’s role this year may not necessarily be that of becoming the next senator. He says Democrats just didn’t want to give Isakson a free ride to the senate.

“The conventional wisdom from the beginning was that Michael Thurmond was being urged to get onto he ballot to be on the top of the ballot to help provide at least some serious opposition to Johnny Isakson and to bring out some black voters in November."

Should Thurmond be successful in energizing Georgia’s Minority voters, it may not be enough to beat Johnny Isakson. But it could give a boost to gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes.