Senator Johnny Isakson: I'll resign at the end of December

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) confirmed Wednesday he plans to resign his seat at the end of December.

The 74-year-old said “mounting health challenges” stemming from Parkinson’s disease informed his decision, adding he also had surgery this week to remove a growth on his kidney. In July, Isakson fractured four ribs and tore his rotator cuff after he fell in his D.C. apartment.

“In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first,” he said in a statement. “With the mounting health challenges I am facing, 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.

“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.”

The senator’s term ends in 2022. Per the National Conference of State Legislators, Georgia fills U.S. Senate vacancies via appointment by the governor, with the appointee serving until the next regularly scheduled statewide general election. Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R) is up for reelection in 2020, meaning Isakson’s seat will also be up for grabs next year.

“With now two Senate seats up for election in 2020, it has never been clearer that the path for Democratic victory runs through Georgia,” the Democratic Party of Georgia said in a statement. “We are the battleground state, and Georgia Democrats are ready to fight and deliver both the Senate and the presidency for Democrats across the country in 2020.”

“We thank Senator Isakson for his years of service to his state and country, and wish him all the best for his future,” the statement said.

It’s unclear whom Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will appoint to the seat.

Georgia Democrats may encourage Stacey Abrams to run for the office in 2020, after Abrams narrowly lost to Kemp in a 2018 bid for governor amid allegations of voter suppression.

That may be a futile effort, however, as a spokesperson for Abrams said Wednesday she’s devoted to an effort to fight voter suppression and will not be running.

“Our thoughts are with Senator Isakson and his family,” said Abrams spokesman Seth Bringman in an email to HuffPost. “Leader Abrams’ focus will not change: she will lead voter protection efforts in key states across the country, and make sure Democrats are successful in Georgia in 2020.

“While she will not be a candidate herself, she is committed to helping Democratic candidates win both Senate races next year.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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