Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia announced Wednesday that he will resign at the end of the year because of “mounting health challenges” related to his Parkinson’s disease.
“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 said in a statement.
Isakson will step down at the end of the year, and Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, will name his replacement until the state holds a special election, likely next year.
Isakson’s retirement has huge implications for the fate of the Senate, with Republicans having to defend 22 of the 34 Senate seats up in 2020. Isakson’s seat open makes it 23. With Democrats needing to pick up three or four Senate seats — depending on who wins the White House — this gives Democrats another opportunity to take back control of the Senate from the GOP and from the self-described “Grim Reaper”of popular legislation, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
David Perdue, Georgia’s other Republican senator, is also up for reelection next year, and he’s a top target for Democrats. It’s an uphill battle for Democrats in Georgia, but there have been signs in the last year that it’s not impossible. Stacey Abrams nearly defeated Kemp in last year’s gubernatorial race, and Lucy McBath picked up Georgia’s 6th Congressional District — a seat Republicans had held for decades.
As Jeff Singer of Daily Kos Elections writes, “A Democratic victory in one of the Peach State’s two seats would go a long way toward helping Team Blue turn its 53-47 deficit in the Senate into a majority, and it now has the tantalizing possibility of taking both.”
Published with permission of The American Independent.