Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

Kelly Loeffler

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., visits the Walton County Republican Party on Aug. 10, 2020, in Monroe.

The encouragement and advice in recent days given by various “leaders” in the Georgia Democratic Party doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction.

It seems some Democrats, whether they are in official leadership roles or not, want all those with a “D” by their name (with the exception of one) to exit the jungle primary for the U.S. Senate. This would help supposedly clear the way for Raphael Warnock, the preferred choice of some.

As of this writing, none of the other seven Democrats in the race have ended their campaign. In all frankness, they shouldn’t.

It’s odd that some think Warnock should be the lone Democratic in the race. Even if he were, there would still be a double-digit number of candidates running in this free-for-all to replace the retired Johnny Isakson.

I spoke with representatives of two of the other Democrats in the race last week and both said their candidate was not even considering dropping out. It is really absurd to think any of them would.

For the record, former Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson; businesswoman and Air Force veteran Jamesia James; businesswoman Tamara Johnson-Shealey; businessman Matt Lieberman; physician Joy Felicia Slade; former U.S. attorney and Army veteran Ed Tarver and college professor Richard Winfield are the other Democrats in the 21-candidate race.

The Democrat that some Warnock supporters really want out of the race is Lieberman. The son of former U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman until recently was ahead of Warnock in the polling numbers. Warnock’s advertising blitz in recent weeks has moved him up in the polls.

Lieberman has repeatedly said he will not end his campaign. Some Warnock supporters have searched high and low for a reason for Lieberman to exit the race including criticizing him for a book of fiction he wrote.

Some in the Warnock camp were even pushing for no other Democrat to enter the race when this campaign got started to help ensure their candidate would make the runoff.

It should be noted this unusual race (where all candidates of all parties will be on the ballot at the same time) includes the eight Democrats as well as six Republicans, four independents, one Libertarian, one Green Party candidate and one official write-in candidate.

There were also some higher-ups in GOP circles who hoped no other Republican would enter the race against non-elected incumbent Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the position by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Loeffler, despite never being before the voters, has the incumbent tag, which can be a powerful tool. Some Republicans hoped to avoid a battle between her and longtime congressman Doug Collins, who was the choice of President Donald Trump for the vacancy created when Isakson retired.

The other Republican candidates press on in the race as well. It should be noted that educator Kandiss Taylor has probably logged more miles on the campaign trail than anyone, regardless of party. She has spoken to any gathering or civic club meeting that has extended her an invitation.

Concerning the two GOP candidates most talked about, Collins did enter the race and the war of words between him and Loeffler has certainly become heated.

Similar to the situation among the Democratic candidates in the race, no Republican, regardless of their personal wealth or connections, should have a free pass in any election. That goes for Loeffler as well as Warnock.

It is up to the voters of Georgia to decide who eventually will hold this most important elected office. That’s the way it should be. For some higher-ups or insiders in any party to think their opinion is the only one that matters is nothing but a slap in the face to every registered voter in the state.

This is a rare opportunity for Georgia voters to have a true full slate of candidates for an elected office. It’s something voters should welcome and something insiders shouldn’t try to prevent.

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