Vote 2020 anomaly: 23 candidates for 2 US Senate races on Georgia ballot

Winner of one or both races might not be determined until January runoff

23 candidates running for two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia this year. (Photos from Atlanta Press Club, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Ballotpedia)

It rarely happens and Georgia is the only place in America it will happen this election year: Both the state’s U.S. Senate seats are on the ballot at the same time.

Between the two races, Georgia voters will see 23 Senate candidates on the November ballot

Because Georgia’s senior senator, Johnny Isakson, resigned late last year for health reasons, all voters will pick who will fill the last two years of his six-year term at the same time they will decide whether to give the state’s junior senator, David Purdue a second term or elect one of two challengers.

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to fill Isakson’s open seat until the special election. She is among 20 candidates in that race -- eight Democrats, six Republicans and six others from smaller parties or not aligned with any party.

Candidates for U.S. Senate (remaining 2 years of term)

Doug Collins - attorney - dougforgeorgia.comDeborah Jackson - attorney - www.deborahforgeorgia.comBrian Slowinski - Libertarian -
Derrick Grayson - network engineer - graysonforga.comJamesia James - retired Air Force/business owner - www.jamesiajames4ussenate.comAl Bartell - independent - business consultant -
Annette Davis Jackson - businesswoman - Johnson-Shealey - advocate - www.tamaraforgeorgia.comAllen Buckley - independent - attorney/CPA -
A. Wayne Johnson - business executive - www.johnsonsenate.comMatt Lieberman - former teacher and head of school - liebermanforsenate.comMichael Todd Greene - independent - former educator
Kelly Loeffler - incumbent U.S. Senator - www.kellyforsenate.comJoy Felicia Slade - physicianValencia Stovall - independent - business owner -
Kandiss Taylor - educator - www.kandisstaylor.comEd Tarver - attorney - www.tarverforsenate.comJohn Fortuin - Green Party - property manager -
Raphael Warnock - pastor -
Richard Dien Winfield - professor -

WHO’S WHO: 20 candidates in special election for U.S. Senate

This not a primary -- it’s a winner-take-all race. But since the chances of one candidate earning the necessary 50% of the vote to win this 20-way race is very small. More than likely, the two who receive the most votes will compete in a runoff on Jan. 5. 2021 -- two days after the 117th Congress begins.

Both major parties are maneuvering to ensure that one of its candidates will be in that runoff. Over the last two weeks, Loeffler was endorsed by Kemp while former Gov. Nathan Deal endorsed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins.

“A Senate seat representing the state of Georgia cannot be bought,” Deal said in a release from the Collins' campaign, taking a shot at the tens of millions of dollars of personal wealth that Loeffler has used to fund her campaign.

Collins and Loeffler are both staunch supporters of President Donald Trump.

On the other side of the aisle, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have endorsed Democrat Raphael Warnock. Warnock, pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, leads among Democrats. He had been struggling to crack into the top two in public polling, where he’d be in position for a runoff spot, though recent polling shows him surging.

“During these difficult times, our nation must continue to march towards progress while holding fast to our American values of equality, justice and economic opportunity for all,” Carter said in a statement. “Reverend Warnock knows the struggles Georgians are facing in this unique crisis — families losing health care, shuttered rural hospitals and record unemployment — all in the middle of a pandemic.”

There’s a full-court press from some Democrats to consolidate support behind Warnock with the hopes of pushing other Democrats, including Matt Lieberman, out of the race. Lieberman, an educator and son of former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, has so far refused to budge.

Stacey Abrams, who came within 2% of defeating Kemp in 2018 and has remained active campaigning for voter registration, has endorsed Warnock.

Trump himself has not made an endorsement in the race.

“Don’t anybody get out,” Trump said last month at an event in Cobb County, implying that having two Republicans duking it out in the Senate race would help his own reelection prospects.

U.S. Senate (6-year term)

The second Senate seat on the ballot is on its normal election cycle. It went through the normal (although pandemic-delayed) primary process, where Democrat Jon Ossoff prevailed in a seven-candidate contest and challenges incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, who had no Republican opponent in the primary, along with Libertarian Shane Hazel.

David Perdue - incumbent - perduesenate.comJon Ossoff - journalist - electjon.comShane Hazel - business development -

Based on recent polling, this race is close enough that no candidate may reach 50% and could also advance to that Jan. 5 runoff.

Primary information from the Elections Division of the Georgia Secretary of State, augmented by research by News4Jax.

About the Author:

Digital election producer in 2022. He created in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website through 2021.