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Sen. Johnny Isakson says he'll seek re-election

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson tried to lay the rumors to rest last week, announcing that he would seek re-election to the Senate in 2010 instead of a much-talked-about gubernatorial race.

Isakson, R-Marietta, was considered a top candidate to succeed Gov. Sonny Perdue, whose final term expires in two years, but his spokeswoman, Joan Kirchner, said Isakson wants to remain in the Senate.

'He was encouraged by many folks back home in the business community to run,' Kirchner said. 'He came to the conclusion that he loves serving in the U.S. Senate and feels he can best serve the state in the Senate.'

Kirchner acknowledged that the announcement comes early, with more than two years to go before the election. But she called it 'very definitive' and said Isakson wanted to make his intentions clear, according to an Associated Press report.

'He knows there are a lot of folks thinking about their own futures with an open governor's race ahead. He wanted to send a clear signal and put any speculation to rest,' she said.

The move does clear the way for a local man hoping to get to the governor's mansion - Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican from Duluth who announced he would seek to become the state's top executive.

Other possible GOP candidates are Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston. Potential Democratic contenders include House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and former Gov. Roy Barnes.

Cardwell releases poll

Former television news reporter Dale Cardwell said he has the edge in the upcoming Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, although he doesn't have much money to support his campaign.

According to a press release issued by Cardwell's campaign, he has the most support from Democrats who also support presidential hopeful Barack Obama, who easily won the state's Democratic primary in February.

Among Obama supporters, 69 percent said they preferred Cardwell in a recent Rasmussen poll, with 64 supporting former state official Jim Martin and 59 percent for DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones, who the campaign pointed out also had a 53 percent unfavorable rating.

But Cardwell refuses to take money from political action committees and admits he is far behind both Martin and Jones in fundraising.

The winner of the July 15 primary will challenge incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss in November.

"The moment we break the stranglehold special interests have on Washington politicians, we will be able to fix health care, end our dependency on foreign oil, fix immigration and heal our broken economy," Cardwell said, paraphrasing Obama. "This poll shows us everyday Georgians are tired of politics as usual. They're saying it doesn't matter if Jim Martin and Vernon Jones continue to rake in the corporate influenced campaign cash; we want a change agent in Washington who will finally work for us, the people of Georgia."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.