Johnny Isakson, a longtime GOP senator from Georgia, dies at 76

Johnny Isakson, the longtime Republican senator and former House lawmaker from Georgia, has died, Fox News reports. He was 76.

Throughout his long career, Isakson became known as a bipartisan dealmaker. He died in his sleep Sunday at home in Atlanta, where he was born.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s

According to the Associated Press, Isakson began his political career as a Georgia state representative. In 1990, he ran for governor and lost. But he went on to serve in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2005, when he entered the U.S. Senate. He was also an accomplished real estate businessman.

The senator was elected to his third, and last, term in 2016 before failing health forced him to step down in 2019. Isakson suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Over the years, he earned a reputation for seeking common ground that made him popular in Washington. But he never left Georgia behind, the state’s governor, Brian Kemp (R), said.

In a statement, he called Isakson one of Georgia’s “greatest statesmen,” a man who “personified what it means to be a Georgian,” and a “gifted retail politician” who “paved the way for the modern Republican party” in the state.

“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,” Kemp said.

Georgia “statesman” mourned

Isakson was also known for being a champion for veterans, and toward the end of his life, he advocated for people with neurological diseases. President Joe Biden, who worked with Isakson in the Senate, issued a statement calling on the country to reflect on Isakson’s message of unity.

“Johnny was a proud Republican, but he put country before party, and valued building consensus over political combat,” Biden said. “I always loved Johnny’s description of the only division he saw as between ‘friends and future friends,'” he added.

Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, who filled Isakson’s seat, said “all of Georgia” is mourning the loss. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called him “one of my very best friends in the Senate,” and a “man with infectious warmth and charisma.”

Isakson is survived by his wife Diane, three children, and nine grandchildren.

“He was a great man and I will miss him,” his son, John, said.

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