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Surprise in Georgia: Both Senate Seats Up for Grabs

GOP Sen. Isakson's retirement changes the 2020 election
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 28, 2019 11:29 AM CDT
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In this Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., flanked by Rep. Buddy Carter R-Ga., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., right, leads a meeting with the Georgia Ports Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers to request full funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in the 2020...   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – Facing health challenges, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia said Wednesday he will retire at year's end, a departure that sets up a rare election in November 2020 when both of the state's Senate seats will be on the ballot. The 74-year-old lawmaker said he is leaving the job he loves because "mounting" health issues, including Parkinson's disease, are "taking their toll" on his work, family, and staff. He won a third term in 2016 and would have faced re-election in 2022 if he had run again, reports the AP. "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 said in a statement. "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."

Isakson, who plans to return to Washington when the Senate resumes next month, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2013 and suffered a fall in July, according to his office. Isakson had surgery in Georgia to remove a growth on a kidney. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said he would appoint Isakson's replacement "at the appropriate time." The senator will step down in December. The ballot in November 2020 will feature a special election for the remaining part of Isakson's term as well as for six-year term of the Senate seat now held by Republican David Perdue. Republican strategists were suggesting that former White House official Nick Ayers, who returned to Georgia, could be considered for the appointment. Stacey Abrams made clear that she will not run for the seat.

(Read more Johnny Isakson stories.)

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