Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) has announced his intention to resign at the end of 2019, as his health continues to decline, CNBC reports.
The 74-year-old senior senator explained his health issues in great detail, announcing that his “Parkinson’s has been progressing,” he has been “continuing physical therapy to recover from a fall in July,” and also “had surgery to remove a growth on my kidney.”
Isakson was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2010 and 2016, with his current term set to end in 2023. But with this announcement, a special election to fill his seat is now likely to take place in 2020, alongside the regularly-scheduled election for Georgia’s other Senate seat, held by Junior Senator David Perdue.
While Georgia is generally considered a safe red state, Democrats have been ramping up their efforts to flip the state in recent years. In 2018, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams came within two percentage points of winning the governorship, being narrowly defeated by then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Abrams and other Democrats have since repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that voter fraud was the reason she lost. Despite being actively courted by Democratic officials, Abrams ultimately declined to run against Perdue in next year’s Senate election and also ruled out a bid for president, instead opting to found an organization called “Fair Fight Action,” for the purpose of fighting alleged “voter suppression” in the upcoming 2020 elections.
Isakson’s resignation, and the subsequent dual election next year for both of Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate, is only likely to increase Democratic focus on the southern state, even as it remains a likely hold for President Donald Trump.
Isakson had previously served in the Georgia Senate from 1993 to 1997, and was then elected to the House of Representatives in 1998 to succeed outgoing Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He then served three terms before his first election to the Senate in 2004.