SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced plans to resign from his seat at the end of 2019 due to “health challenges.”
Isakson, 74, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013 and in July, suffered a fall that fractured four ribs and tore a rotator cuff.
“I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff,” the senator said in a statement Wednesday. “My Parkinson’s has been progressing, and I am continuing physical therapy to recover from a fall in July.”
Isakson added that on Monday, he underwent surgery at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta to remove a 2-centimeter renal cell carcinoma from one of his kidneys.
“With the mounting health challenges I am facing, I have concluded that I will not be able to do the job over the long term in the manner the citizens of Georgia deserve,” he stated. “It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state.”
Isakson said he plans to return to Washington when the Senate resumes next month and will resign, effective Dec. 31.
“No one embodies the heart and soul of Georgia more than Johnny Isakson,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in a statement Wednesday. “Our state and country have been immeasurably blessed by his leadership in the Georgia General Assembly, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate. Senator Isakson’s list of accomplishments on behalf of the state that he loves is long and revered, but what Georgia should be most thankful for is the high standard that Johnny held as a true gentleman, a fighter for his constituents, a trusted advocate for our nation’s veterans, and one of the greatest statesmen to ever answer the call of service to our country.”
Kemp, a Republican, will appoint an interim senator to serve through the end of next year. That seat will face a special election in 2020 — a rare situation when both of Georgia’s Senate seats will be on the ballot.
To secure a full six-year Senate term, the seat winner will have to run again in 2022.
In 2016, Isakson won re-election with 54% of the vote and became the first Republican in Georgia to be elected to a third term in the U.S. Senate. After more than three decades in the real estate business, Isakson became the only elected official in Georgia to serve in the Georgia House, the Georgia Senate, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
Some story information via The Associated Press