MACON, Ga. — Positive and thankful remarks swept across Georgia Wednesday after U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson announced that he’s ending his 40-year political career by resigning from office.
In an e-mail to the 13 WMAZ newsroom, Isakson said, “It has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to serve the state of Georgia in the Georgia State House, Georgia Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. As you know, I have been battling health challenges for several years, and after much prayer and consultation with my family, I have decided I will leave the Senate effective Dec. 31, 2019.”
Four years ago, Isakson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Then in July, Isakson broke four ribs during a fall in his Washington, D.C. apartment.
“I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff,” Isakson wrote in the e-mail. “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.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year
Former Georgia U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Moultrie said he met Isakson when they were students at the University of Georgia.
“It’s a sad day for the country and a sad day for the state,” said Chambliss, a fellow Republican who served with Isakson in the Senate. “But I think he’s making the right decision. I have nothing but respect for him. The country is going to miss Johnny Isakson.”
Vivian Childs, a member of the Houston County Republican Party, said Chambliss is “one of my heroes. I like his integrity. He’s one of the few people I did a political ad for.’
Childs said she supports his decision, adding that “he will surely be missed.”
Jim Marshall, a Democrat who held Georgia’s 8th District congressional seat 2003 to 2011, called Isakson a “wonderful, wonderful human being who has served us and the state very well.” Marshall said it’s unfortunate that his health problems cut his career short. “I wish him well,” Marshall said.
Isakson also thanked Georgians for their support during his political career. He said without their support, his service wouldn’t have been possible.
“In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first,” he said. “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.”
Isakson said stepping down mid-term goes against his heart and soul. But he said it’s the right thing to do for the state.
Once his resignation becomes official, Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint someone to fill the position until the next general election, which is Nov. 3, 2020.
Here are some more statements from Georgia politicians about his service to Georgia:
“No one embodies the heart and soul of Georgia more than Johnny Isakson. Our state and country have been immeasurably blessed by his leadership in the Georgia General Assembly, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate." - Gov. Brian Kemp
“When Johnny Isakson speaks, people listen. He is a true statesman, and it shows every day… Throughout his four decades of service, Johnny has always been a champion for the people of Georgia, especially our veterans.” - US Sen. David Perdue
“Johnny Isakson is a giant among men, and it has been an honor to work alongside him fighting for the good people of Georgia. For decades, Johnny has faithfully served our state, and his character, godliness, and statesmanship will be greatly missed in Washington." - US Rep. Austin Scott
“It’s a sad day for the country and a sad day for the state..... The country is going to miss Johnny Isakson.” - Former US Sen. Saxby Chambliss