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United States Senator Johnny Isakson, pictured here speaking at Gov. Brian Kemp’s election night party, will retire at the end of 2019. (Photo/Miranda Daniel, mirandadanielphoto@gmail.com)

After 45 years in politics, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson will retire at the end of this year because of health reasons. 

The 74-year-old Georgia Republican senator was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2013 and said health challenges have taken a toll on his work and his family, according to a statement released Wednesday, Aug. 28. 

"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," Isakson said in the 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."

The senator will go to Washington D.C. to carry out his last Senate session and leave the position on Dec. 31. His term was supposed to end in 2022. 

Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint a senator to replace Isakson. His seat will be on the ballot in 2020 for a special election.

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue's seat will also be up for election next year, meaning Democrats have potential to flip the 14-year Republican control of Georgia's Senate seats.

Isakson has been a U.S. senator since 2005 when he replaced former Sen. Zell Miller. He has also served in the state House and Senate and the U.S. House.

“No one embodies the heart and soul of Georgia more than Johnny Isakson," Kemp said in a statement. "Our state and country have been immeasurably blessed by his leadership in the Georgia General Assembly, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate."

Isakson won reelection in 2016 with 55.4 percent of the vote, according to a previous Red & Black article. He has served as the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. 

Isakson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1966 and has returned to campus over the years to visit with student veterans and give the 2014 undergraduate commencement address.

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