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In a potential boost to Democratic hopes to retake the Senate majority in next year’s elections, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced Wednesday that he would resign his seat at year’s end, leaving the Georgia GOP defending two seats in 2020.
Isakson said that he notified Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) about his impending resignation. Kemp must now name someone who will serve through the 2020 election and must run to hold the seat.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) already is up for re-election next year.
The Peach State has been a safe Republican state for a generation but Democrat Stacey Abrams nearly defeated Kemp in last year’s gubinatorial election. Democrats also won several congressional seats from Georgia away from Republicans.
Like the Perdue race, Abrams almost immediately declined to run for Isakson’s seat. However, she said she would work to combat voter suppression.
Isakson clearly is departing with a heavy heart.
“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,” the three-term senator said in a statement. “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,” Isakson added. “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.
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