Commentary: Johnny Isakson was Republican when Republicans weren’t cool; we need him now more than ever.

Commentary: Johnny Isakson was Republican when Republicans weren’t cool; we need him now more than ever.


U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.


The following is a transcript of our Hometown Headlines Newscast rant of the day from Thursday, Aug. 30, 2019, following U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s decision to resign effective Dec. 31 of this year because of mounting health issues. We’e been asked for a web version of the rant and a copy follows. You can listen to the audio edition here following that day’s headlines. Our newscasts are posted most weekdays. 

  • Recommended reading: Please see the AJC’s Jim Galloway’s column on the resurrection of Johnny Isakson from Sunday’s newspaper. Galloway

It was election season in 1990 when Johnny Isakson made his way into the newsroom at The Times in Gainesville on the other side of the state. He had a distinctive look to him: Polished and professional but not the blow dry type candidates we’d already gotten too used to by then.

John Druckenmiller, president and publisher of Hometown Headlines Inc.

We said it back then: He seemed to be the type of guy you could sit at a bar with and actually solve those proverbial world problems. Democrat Zell Miller went on to beat him in the governor’s race that year but we had a feeling Johnny was done.

He certainly wasn’t. A businessman who built his success in real estate, he didn’t give up. It just wasn’t in his nature.

The so-called Republican revolution in Georgia wouldn’t arrive until four years later but Isakson already was there.

Unlike what has become a generation of “gravy boat” Republicans (and we apologize to the fine local restaurant by that name but remind the that term is from a decade ago), Isakson had pedigree.

In the past three to four election cycles, you’ve seen statewide candidates switch parties just to get elected, knowing that R next to their names just about guaranteed success.

Isakson was, and is, a pioneer in the party and in politics. That most recently has been demonstrated by his refusal to tolerate some of the antics from Donald Trump – a fellow Republican in party name only. Unlike other state and regional politicians, Isakson refused to ride any coat tails.

Now, midway through his third term in the Senate and battling additional health issues, Isakson has announced plans to resign from office effective Dec. 31. That will give him 15 years in the Senate; Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint his replacement and Georgia voters will pick his ultimate successor in November 2020.

As the experts describe it, the Isakson decision puts Georgia as Ground Zero next year with two Senate seats on the ballot. Lord help us, the national media AKA the circus is coming to town.

Here’s hoping they’ll also look at a man who’s political career is legendary in Georgia.  Here’s why:

  • Isakson’s ability to reach across the aisle to solve an issue.
  • Isakson’s work ethic, one that earned him the title as the hardest-working U.S. senator.
  • Isakson’s demeanor in that he speaks his mind on key issues.
  • Isakson’s dedication to this state and constituents. Want proof? Ask a veteran.

The last thing the Senate or our state needs to lose is Johnny Isakson. The last thing we need is another empty suit in that office – or in any office.

We need another Johnny Isakson.

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