ATLANTA (AP) – Republican Senator Johnny Isakson announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the year due to ill health and immediately secured Georgia's status as a Must-Watch 2020 battlefield by ensuring that both seats are elected in the Senate.
Isakson's upcoming resignation after more than four decades in Georgian politics gives the Democrats a surprise opening in a southern federal state where the GOP shows signs of slipping in nationwide elections. The state's junior senator, Republican David Perdue, is already a prime target when he seeks re-election for the first time next year.
74-year-old Isakson claims to quit his beloved job because he "intensified" health problems such as Parkinson's disease, "taking their toll". He won a third term in 201
"I've come to the conclusion that in the long term, I can not do the job the way citizens do in Georgia," Isakson said in a statement. "It contradicts every fiber of my being to leave the Senate in the middle of my tenure, but I know it's the right thing for my state."
The November 2020 election in Georgia will now include a special election for the remaining two years of Isakson's term in addition to Perdue's race for another six-year term.
It is a doubly tempting target for Democrats, who increasingly believe that Georgia, which has become less rural and less white in recent decades, stands up. "Georgia is re-election of Donald Trump and control of the US Senate Being an important decision-maker now, "said Brian Robinson, a Republican political consultant in Georgia who served as communications director under former governor Nathan Deal.
It's a tough fight for the Georgia Democrats, who have not voted any governor or US Senator since 1998, the last Democratic presidential candidate to win here in 1992.
In the last elections, however, nationwide races have become more competitive. Trump won Georgia in 2016 at just over 5 percentage points, compared to its double-digit profit margins in other states of the South. In the race for the Governor of Georgia last fall, Republican Brian Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams with just over 1% of the vote.
"This is another seat that Republicans will have to defend next year on an increasingly competitive battlefield," said Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the Committee for Democratic Senator Campaigns.
Kemp appoints Isakson's successor, who will be in office until the special elections. Isakson plans to resign in December.
There will be no area code for the seat, which means that the November 2020 competition will be open to qualified candidates from all political parties. This could significantly increase the likelihood of a runoff required by Georgian law if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.
The former White House official, Nick Ayers, who recently returned to Georgia, said in an e-mail that he would not offer her a seat. According to Republican strategists, Georgia's MPs are among the potential candidates Doug Collins and Tom Graves, as well as state officials like Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Attorney General Chris Carr.
"This is a very short sprint to the 2020 election," Robinson said. "You'll need someone who has a proven fundraiser, a good network and already some knowledge of the issues, which limits the field somewhat."
Three Democrats have already declared their candidacy for Perdue's seat.
Abrams, who had been promoted for a race against Perdue, "will not be a candidate for Isakson's seat," said a spokesperson for Twitter. Instead, it will continue to focus on voter access issues in Georgia and at national level.
Chairing the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Isakson has been working to expand programs that provide veterans with more opportunities for private health care. He said he plans to return to Washington when the Senate resumes next month. But worsening health will keep him from staying long.
Isakson was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2013. Due to the chronic, progressive movement disorder, he often walked with a noticeably slower, shuffling gate through the corridors of the Capitol. After reelection in 2016, Isakson was operated on the following year to counteract the deterioration of the spine. At times he was in a wheelchair.
He recovers from a fall in July in his apartment in Washington, where four ribs were broken. And Isakson announced Wednesday that he had to undergo surgery early this week to remove growth from one of his kidneys.
Co-senators of both parties welcomed Isakson's term. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., labeled Isakson the "gold standard" for the Senate. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, said Isakson was "one of our best."
Isakson, who earned millions of dollars in real estate, won the 1976 election for the state parliament for the first time. His years as a Republican When the Democrats were still in control of Georgian politics, lawmakers formed him into an affable consensus-maker, a style he maintained when Congress became bitterly partisan, said former US Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgian Republican. who worked with Isakson at both federal and federal levels. 19659002] "There are a lot of times when you want to tell the other side to go to hell," Kingston said. "Johnny has always refrained from it. But he was never intimidated by the rulers, be it Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump.
Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. AP Congress correspondent Lisa Mascaro was from Washington.