ATLANTA – Former Republican Senator Johnny Isaacson of Georgia died on Sunday. He was 76 years old.
Isaacson died in his sleep before dawn at his home in Atlanta, his son John Isaacson told the Associated Press. He said that although his father had Parkinson’s disease, the cause of death was not immediately clear.
“He was a great man and I will miss him,” said John Isaacson.
Johnny Isaacson, whose real estate business made him a millionaire, spent more than four decades in Georgia political life. In the Senate, he was the architect of a popular tax credit for first-time home buyers he said would help bolster the struggling housing market. As chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, she worked to expand programs to offer more private health care options for veterans.
Isaacson’s famous motto was, “There are two kinds of people in this world: friends and future friends.” This approach made him highly popular among colleagues.
President Joe Biden, who served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Isaacson, said in a statement Sunday that he and the late senator shared a “normal built on mutual respect for each other and the institutions that govern our country.” Found the base.”
Kentucky Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to Isaacson as “one of my best friends in the Senate” on Sunday.
“His infectious warmth and charisma, his generosity and his honesty made Johnny one of the most admired and loved men in the Capitol,” McConnell said in a statement.
In 2015, while seeking a third term in the Senate, Isaacson revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a chronic and progressive movement disorder that had left him with significantly slower, shuffling gait. Soon after winning re-election in 2016, he underwent a scheduled surgery on his back to correct a spinal degeneration. He often relied on a cane or wheelchair in later years.
In August 2019, not long after fracturing four ribs while falling in his Washington apartment, Isaacson announced he would retire at the end of the year with two years remaining in his term.
A native of Atlanta, Isaacson failed in his first bid for elected office: a seat on the Cobb County Commission in 1974. Two years later, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, becoming the only Republican in Georgia to defeat the Democratic incumbent. That same year Jimmy Carter was elected president. Isaacson served 17 years in the State House and Senate. Always in the minority in Georgia’s general assembly, he helped ignite the path toward GOP dominance of the 2000s, inspired by Atlanta’s suburban boom. By the end of Isaacson’s career, some of those same suburbs were swinging back towards the Democrats.
Isaacson suffered a humble setback before ascending the Senate. In 1990, he lost the gubernatorial race to Democrat Zell Miller. In 1996, Guy Milner defeated him in a Republican primary for the Senate, before Milner lost to Democrat Max Cleland.
Isaacson’s jump to Congress came about in 1998, when US House Speaker Newt Gingrich decided not to seek re-election. Isaacson won the 1999 special election to fill the suburban Atlanta seat.
He eventually made it to the US Senate in 2004 when he defeated Democrat Dennis Maget by 58 percent of the vote. He served with Georgia Senior Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a close friend and classmate of the University of Georgia.
Isaacson was seen as a prohibitive early favorite to succeed Republican Sonny Perdue at the governor’s mansion in 2010. But he opted to seek a second term in the Senate. While there, he developed a reputation as a moderate, although he rarely split with his party over major votes.
Isaacson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1966 and a year later joined his family-owned company, Northside Realty in Cobb County. It grew during its more than 20 years as one of the largest independent residential real estate brokerage companies in the country. Isaacson also served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966 to 1972.
He is survived by his wife Diane, whom he married in 1968; Three children and nine grandchildren.