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GA Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign in 2019, citing health issues

Updated with reaction
Updated: Aug. 28, 2019 at 10:49 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Senior Georgia US Senator Johnny Isakson says he is resigning from his seat at the end of 2019.

The senator made the announcement Wednesday morning in a statement.

“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.

“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.

“In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first. 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. 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.

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

Here is the official media release from Senator Isakson’s office:

ISAKSON TO RESIGN U.S. SENATE SEAT AT END OF 2019

https://www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/8/isakson-to-resign-u-s-senate-seat-at-end-of-2019

'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’

MARIETTA, Ga. – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today issued the following statement regarding his service in the U.S. Senate:

“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.

“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.

“In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first. 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. 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.

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

Isakson’s Senate term ends in 2022, and there will be three years left in the term when he vacates the seat in December.

Isakson, 74, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013. In July, Isakson fell in his D.C. apartment and suffered four fracture ribs and a torn rotator cuff. On Monday, Isakson underwent surgery at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta to remove a 2-centimeter renal cell carcinoma from one of his kidneys.

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.

Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan’s Statement on Isakson Resignation

ATLANTA — Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan has released the following statement regarding the upcoming resignation of United States Senator Johnny Isakson:

“Over the course of his career, Senator Isakson consistently put Georgians first and embodied what it means to be a workhorse and not a show horse in Washington. He built the Republican Party of Georgia from the ground up, and I am so thankful for his conservative leadership. His commitment to our Georgia values is something every elected official in our state should seek to emulate. Brooke and I wish him and his family all the best in the coming years.”

U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE TERESA TOMLINSON MAKES STATEMENT ON ISAKSON RESIGNATION

Columbus, GA – Teresa Tomlinson, two-term mayor of Columbus and candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia, releases statement on the retirement of Johnny Isakson:

"Johnny Isakson has had a long and distinguished career serving the people of Georgia with wisdom, justice, and moderation. He has been a convenient statesman. I wish Senator Isakson and his family all the best as he begins his well-earned retirement.

I first met Senator Isakson when I was a young girl and he helped sell my parent’s first home. Like so many other Georgians, I consider myself lucky to know him in both a personal and professional capacity. His kindness and generosity shown through in everything he did."

Governor, First Lady’s Statements on Senator Isakson’s Resignation

Atlanta, GA – Following Senator Johnny Isakson's statement regarding his resignation from the U.S. Senate, effective December 31, 2019, Governor Brian P. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp issue the following statements:

“No one embodies the heart and soul of Georgia more than Johnny Isakson," said Governor Kemp. "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. Marty and I are forever grateful for the friendship that Johnny and Dianne have shown us over the years and wish them the very best in the years to come. I will appoint Senator Isakson’s replacement at the appropriate time.”

“Senator Isakson is a lifelong family friend, and we are deeply grateful for his dedicated service to our state and nation, including alongside my father in the Georgia General Assembly,” said First Lady Marty Kemp. “Georgia is incredibly blessed to have had Johnny on our side for all these years. Our family is praying for Johnny and Dianne as they embark on this new journey.”

Governor, First Lady’s Statements on Senator Isakson’s Resignation

Atlanta, GA – Following Senator Johnny Isakson's statement regarding his resignation from the U.S. Senate, effective December 31, 2019, Governor Brian P. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp issue the following statements:

“No one embodies the heart and soul of Georgia more than Johnny Isakson," said Governor Kemp. "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. Marty and I are forever grateful for the friendship that Johnny and Dianne have shown us over the years and wish them the very best in the years to come. I will appoint Senator Isakson’s replacement at the appropriate time.”

"Senator Isakson is a lifelong family friend, and we are deeply grateful for his dedicated service to our state and nation, including alongside my father in the Georgia General Assembly," said First Lady Marty Kemp. "Georgia is incredibly blessed to have had Johnny on our side for all these years. Our family is praying for Johnny and Dianne as they embark on this new journey."

Applicable Law

Ga. Const. Art. V, § II, Para. VIII

(a) When any public office shall become vacant by death, resignation, or otherwise, the Governor shall promptly fill such vacancy unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law; and persons so appointed shall serve for the unexpired term unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law.

(b) In case of the death or withdrawal of a person who received a majority of votes cast in an election for the office of Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture, or Commissioner of Labor, the Governor elected at the same election, upon becoming Governor, shall have the power to fill such office by appointing, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, an individual to serve until the next general election and until a successor for the balance of the unexpired term shall have been elected and qualified.

O.C.G.A. § 21-2-542

Whenever a vacancy shall occur in the representation of this state in the Senate of the United States, such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term by the vote of the electors of the state at a special election to be held at the time of the next November state-wide general election, occurring at least 40 days after the occurrence of such vacancy; and it shall be the duty of the Governor to issue his or her proclamation for such election. Until such time as the vacancy shall be filled by an election as provided in this Code section, the Governor may make a temporary appointment to fill such vacancy.

Background

This morning, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson spoke with Governor Kemp to inform him of his decision to resign public office, effective December 31, 2019. Senator Isakson provided a formal letter (attached) to the Governor. There is no vacancy until Isakson’s formal resignation on December 31, 2019. Under Ga. Const. Art. V, § II, Para. VIII and Ga. Code. Ann. § 21-2-542, the Governor will make a temporary appointment where such person will serve until a special election is held on November 3, 2020.

Among his many accomplishments and service, Senator Isakson is also a veteran of the Georgia Air National Guard, former member of the State School Board, and a graduate of the University of Georgia.

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