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GOP Senator Johnny Isakson Announces His Retirement

By  Molly Prince
UNITED STATES - JUNE 23: Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., leaves the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol, June 23, 2015.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Johnny Isakson announced on Wednesday that he will be stepping down from his United States Senate seat at the end of the year due to ongoing health issues.

“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,” Isakson said in a statement. “I have informed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that I will resign my Senate seat effective December 31, 2019. I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family, and my staff.”

Isakson revealed in 2015 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In July, the Georgia senator was hospitalized after he fell in his Washington, D.C. apartment and fractured four of his ribs and tore a rotator cuff, for which he is still undergoing physical therapy. And on Monday, he underwent surgery to remove a two-centimeter renal cell carcinoma from one of his kidneys. Isakson cited the aforementioned health issues as a reason for his retirement.

“In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first,” Isakson said. “With the mounting health challenges I am facing, I have to conclude that I will not be able to do the job over the long term in the manner the citizens of Georgia deserve.”

“It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term,” he continued. “But I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state.”

Isakson won reelection to his Georgia seat for a third term in 2016, making him the first GOP senator in the state to do so. He is also the only elected official to serve in Georgia’s State House, Georgia’s State Senate, the United States House, and the United States Senate.

Isakson’s Senate seat does not expire until 2022, so there will be three years remaining in his term when he steps down. Consequently, Kemp will appoint someone to fill the vacant seat through the end of 2020, at which time the seat will be subject to a special election. A regular election will commence in 2022 for a full six-year term.

Isakson is the chairman of both the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Select Committee on Ethics. He also sits on the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, of which he is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.

“I look forward to returning to Washington on September 9 when the Senate goes back into session,” Isakson said. “And after December 31, I look forward to continuing to help the people of Georgia in any way I can and also help those who are working toward a cure for Parkinson’s.”

“Senator Johnny Isakson has epitomized public service for most of my lifetime,” Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer told The Daily Wire. “He is a pioneering Republican, a wonderful family man and a great Georgian. I wish him the best in his retirement as an era in Georgia politics ends.”

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