ATLANTA — Crowded candidate fields for two U.S. Senate races on Georgia's 2020 ballots took final shape Friday, the deadline for contenders to sign up. Meanwhile, a woman recently pardoned by President Donald Trump filed paperwork to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta.
A total of 21 candidates, including recently appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, paid fees and filed paperwork to be on the Nov. 3 ballot for Georgia's special election for Loeffler's seat.
That race won't be preceded by the normal party primaries to thin the pack before the fall. The crowded field only increases odds that the race will get pushed into overtime with a Jan. 5 runoff between the top two vote-getters in the race for retired Sen. Johnny Isakson's old seat.
Loeffler, who took office in January by appointment of the governor, and GOP rival U.S. Rep. Doug Collins aren't the only Republicans in the free-for-all. Other GOP contenders who qualified include Derrick Grayson, Wayne Johnson, Kandiss Taylor and Annette Davis Jackson.
Democrats officially in the race include the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached; Ed Tarver, who served as U.S. attorney for Georgia's Southern District under President Barack Obama; Matt Lieberman, an educator and the son of former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. Tamara Johnson-Shealey, Joy Felicia Slade, Richard Dien Winfield, Deborah Jackson and Jamesia James also qualified as Democrats.
"This is a critical moment in the history of our country, so many people are depending on us," Warnock told reporters at the state Capitol in Atlanta on Friday after filing his paperwork.
Several third-party and independent candidates also qualified to challenge Loeffler, including Libertarian Brian Slowinski, Green Party candidate John "Green" Fortuin, independents Al Bartell, Allen Buckley, Michael Todd Greene and Georgia state Rep. Valencia Stovall, and Rod Mack.
In Georgia's other U.S. Senate race, Republican Sen. David Perdue drew no opposition from within his own party as he seeks a second term.
Democrats nominating a challenger for Perdue will have many choices in the May 19 primary. Jon Ossoff, who smashed fundraising records in an unsuccessful 2017 congressional campaign; former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson; and 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico are the top contenders. Other Democrats running include former ACLU of Georgia head Maya Dillard Smith, Tricia Carpenter McCracken, James Knox and Marckeith DeJesus.
Libertarian Shane Hazel also qualified to challenge Perdue.
Georgia's longest serving congressman drew two surprise challengers Friday. Trump supporter Angela Stanton-King signed up to run as a Republican against Lewis, a Democrat and civil rights hero seeking an 18th term despite a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. From Lewis' left, teacher Barrington Martin entered the Democratic primary.
"This isn't about replacing John Lewis, this is about picking up the torch and continuing the fight for justice," Stanton-King wrote in a tweet. She was pardoned last month by Trump for her part in a stolen car ring, after serving six months of home confinement in 2007.
In suburban Atlanta's 6th Congressional District, five Republicans led by former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel are battling to take on first-term Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath. In the suburban 7th District, seven Republicans and six Democrats seek to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Rep Rod Woodall.