Isakson To Pursue Ga. Seat

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Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, the chairman of the state school board, said last week he will run in a special election to fill the seat that Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., plans to vacate.

The date of the election will depend on when Mr. Gingrich actually leaves Congress. Once Gov. Zell Miller receives an official letter of resignation, he will have 10 days to call for the election. It will then be held 30 days later.

Johnny Isakson

While the names of other Republicans have been suggested as possible candidates, Mr. Isakson, a prominent Atlanta real estate agent who made his announcement Nov. 11, would likely be favored to win the race in the state's 6th Congressional District, a conservative suburban area. Kennesaw State University Professor Christina Jeffrey is also considering running. Ms. Jeffrey gained notoriety when Mr. Gingrich fired her as House historian in 1995 over her comments on a teaching unit about the Holocaust.

Michael Coles, the founder of the Great American Cookie Co., who failed in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell in the general election, could be the leading Democratic candidate. Last week, officials of the Georgia Democratic Party said Mr. Coles had not decided whether to run.

Appointed by Miller

Voters, however, may not know the candidates' party affiliations when they go to the polls. Secretary of State Lewis A. Massey is expected to order a nonpartisan election, according to his spokesman, Chris Riggall.

Mr. Isakson and nine other members were appointed to the state board by Gov. Miller, a Democrat, in late 1996 after Mr. Miller asked all of the previous board members to resign. The governor was trying to end months of bickering between state schools Superintendent Linda C. Schrenko, a Republican, and the board. ("Ga. Governor Purges Board To End Bickering With Schrenko," Jan. 15, 1997.)

A former state senator, Mr. Isakson is regarded as someone who can work with diverse groups of people. While his term on the school board doesn't end until 2004, it was expected when Mr. Isakson took the post that he would serve only two years.

Vol. 18, Issue 12, Page 17

Published in Print: November 18, 1998, as Isakson To Pursue Ga. Seat
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