Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond will enter the US Senate race against Johnny Isakson on Tuesday. This is exceptionally good news for Democrats on two fronts:
1) Last month we ranked Isakson as the third most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the country seeking reelection, behind only Richard Burr and David Vitter. When we polled the state six weeks ago he had extremely middling approval numbers with 36% of voters giving him good marks and 38% saying they disapproved of him. We showed him at just 46% against a generic Democratic opponent and lest you think that's just PPP bias Rasmussen has shown him under 50% in the last few months as well. Obviously Georgia is going to be a tough state for Democrats in this political climate. But Isakson is a weak incumbent and it's very good news for Democrats that a statewide office holder is willing to challenge him. This could be a sleeper race like the Jim Martin/Saxby Chambliss one two years ago that ended up being much closer in the fall than anyone had expected in the spring.
2) The other reason it's really good news is that having a strong black candidate on the top of the ticket alongside Roy Barnes should really help to get African American voters out for the Governor's race and the whole Democratic ticket. Taking the polling as a whole you have to look at the Gubernatorial contest as a 50/50 proposition right now. If Democrats can avoid the drop off in turnout from black voters that plagued the party's chances of winning the Martin/Chambliss runoff in 2008 and more recently the Virginia Governor's race that will really help their prospects across the board- and Thurmond should help with that.
Democrats haven't had a lot of good weeks on the recruitment front so far this year- but with Pataki and Thompson out in New York and Wisconsin and Thurmond in in George you have to declare the last five a days a win for the party.