Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) honored the legacy of his fellow Georgia colleague Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on Tuesday in preparation for his forthcoming retirement.
“I rise today with mixed emotions. I rise to recognize an incredible Georgian, a true statesman, a titan of the United States Senate, and maybe most importantly, a friend to me and many people here and back home in Georgia,” Perdue said while speaking on the Senate floor.
“It will be hard to see him go, but the realty is, he won’t go. He’ll still be involved here. I’m sure I’ll get the phone calls about when we might have disagreed on a vote, or why didn’t I think about this. He’s been a tremendous partner for me these last four years,” he continued. “Johnny has left a profound legacy that’s worth celebrating, one that we should all strive to follow here in this body.”
Perdue’s remarks come less than a month after Isakson announced that he would be stepping down from his U.S. Senate seat at the end of the year due to ongoing health issues.
The beloved senator revealed in 2015 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In July, Isakson 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. Only days before he announced his retirement, the Georgia senator underwent surgery to remove a two-centimeter renal cell carcinoma from one of his kidneys.
“He epitomizes the best for the United States Senate. His legacy can be summed up in one word: service,” Perdue said. “No matter what he does, Johnny puts other people before himself.”
“Johnny puts other people first before himself. He doesn’t do it for recognition or fame. Many times, he does it when people don’t notice or know he did it,” he continued. “He does it because it’s the right thing to do.”
Perdue further commended Isakson for his long and accomplished career serving the people of Georgia. While Isakson notably was the first Republican senator in Georgia to win a third term, he also is the only elected official to serve in Georgia’s State House, Georgia’s State Senate, the United States House, and the United States Senate.
Perdue noted that Isakson’s career also included his time in the private sector, in the Georgia Air National Guard, and even as a local Sunday school teacher for more than three decades.
“His dedication to service is even more impressive because it has produced incredible results for our country. This town has a lot of activity, but it’s short on results. Johnny knows the difference,” Perdue said before touting Isakson’s work as the chairman of the Senate Veterans Administration Committee, as well as his successful legislation impacting agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and criminal justice.
“When he speaks, people listen. He gets the job done. He understands what priority means,” he continued. “Yet, Johnny isn’t the kind of leader who gives orders and makes demands. He’s someone who leads from place of respect, compromise, and understanding with both sides of the aisle.”
“With Johnny, it doesn’t matter who you are, or what party you’re in, or where you’re from,” Perdue added. “He’s always there to talk and always ready to listen.”
Isakson’s Senate seat does not expire until 2022, so there will be three years remaining in his term when he steps down on December 31, 2019. Georgia Gov. Brian 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.
“Of course the road has not always been easy for Johnny. Not every battle has been won, not all news has been good,” Perdue said. “What I’ve always admired about him though is his stalwart resilience — whenever circumstances have tried to knock him down, he always gets back up with a smile and he keeps serving others.”
“You feel guilty when you’re around Johnny Isakson when you’re having a bad day,” he added. “If Johnny asks how you’re doing, you better say ‘great’ because he’s going to give you that same answer.”