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GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to retire after 2019, putting a 2nd Georgia Senate seat into play in 2020

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is putting another Senate seat up into play.

The 74-year-old senator announced Wednesday that he will resign at the end of 2019 so he can focus on his health. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and was hospitalized this summer after suffering several falls, and while he said in a statement "it goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term," he added this is "the right thing to do on behalf of my state."

Isakson has served in the Senate since 2005, and won reelection to a third term just last year. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) — who narrowly beat Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2018 — will appoint someone to fill Isakson's seat until a special election can be held next year. Potential candidates include Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who has a high-profile spot on the House Judiciary Committee.

Isakson's announcement means there will be two Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia in 2020. Sen. David Perdue (R) is seeking reelection next fall in a race that many Democrats have encouraged Abrams to enter. Abrams was also thought to be a strong contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, but she officially shelved a 2020 run earlier this month in favor of fighting voter suppression.