Republican stalwart Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson just announced he is resigning from the Senate for health reasons.
His resignation will take effect at the end of the year. His replacement will be chosen by a Republican Georgia governor so the balance of power in the Senate will not be impacted.
“After much prayer and consultation with my family and my doctors, I have made the very tough decision to leave the U.S. Senate at the end of this year.
I have informed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp today that I will resign my Senate seat effective December 31, 2019,” Isakson said in a statement.
“I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff.
My Parkinson’s has been progressing, and I am continuing physical therapy to recover from a fall in July. In addition, this week I had surgery to remove a growth on my kidney,” he added.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Isakson served in the Georgia Air National Guard (1966–1972) and graduated from the University of Georgia.
He opened a real estate branch for Northside Realty and later served 22 years as the company’s president.
After a failed bid for the Georgia House of Representatives in 1974, he was elected in 1976. He served seven terms, including four as minority leader. Isakson was the Republican candidate for governor of Georgia in 1990, but lost.
Two years later, he was elected to the Georgia Senate and served one term. He unsuccessfully ran in the Republican primary in the 1996 U.S. Senate elections.
After 6th District Congressman and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich resigned, Isakson ran in the February 1999 special election to succeed him, winning by a 40-point margin. He ran for the U.S. Senate in November 2004 after conservative Democratic incumbent Zell Miller opted not to run for re-election.
With the backing of much of Georgia’s Republican establishment, he won both the primary and general elections by large margins.
He is serving his third term after re-election to the Senate in 2016. He became the senior Senator when Saxby Chambliss retired in 2015. On August 28, 2019, Isakson announced that he would retire from the Senate on December 31 of that year.