‘Georgia has lost a giant’: Johnny Isakson, former Republican senator, dies at 76

‘He put his state and his country ahead of self and party’

John Bowden
Sunday 19 December 2021 22:10 GMT
<p>Former Sen Johnny Isakson</p>

Former Sen Johnny Isakson

Respected former Republican Senator Johnny Isakson died on Sunday after a battle with Parkinson’s disease, his family confirmed.

Mr Isakson, from Georgia, served for nearly 15 years as a member of the Senate. During his tenure, he built a reputation for bipartisanship.

Jon Ossoff, one of two Democrats currently representing the state in the Senate, noted Mr Isakson’s death in a statement.

“Senator Isakson was a statesman who served Georgia with honor. He put his state and his country ahead of self and party, and his great legacy endures. Alisha and I will keep Dianne and the Isakson family in our prayers,” said Mr Ossoff.

Brian Kemp, the state’s governor who has made a name for himself resisting Donald Trump’s attempts to convince state officials to change election results in the state, said: “Georgia has lost a giant, one of its greatest statesmen and a servant leader dedicated to making his state and country better than he found it,” said the governor.

Mr Isakson announced his retirement from the Senate in 2019, in the middle of his term, due to health problems. The 76-year-old was battling Parkinson’s at the time of his death.

At the time, he said that serving the state had been the “honor of a lifetime”.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was among Mr Isakson’s fans, and the year he announced his retirement claimed that Mr Isakson would likely win a poll determining the most-respected member of the upper chamber.

His seat would be one of two closely fought over by Republicans and Democrats in the Georgia Senate runoffs, which took place in January. Democrats narrowly eked out a win in both special elections after weeks of brutal campaigning and false claims from former President Donald Trump about the state’s election integrity, resulting in the Senate flipping to Democratic control.

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