A stalwart Republican representative and senator has died.
Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican who had a 15-year congressional career as a centrist conservative, died at age 76.
"We are grateful for everyone's prayers as we mourn the loss of our father," said Isakson's oldest son, John Isakson, in a statement.
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Isakson died Sunday morning, his family announced. He had been battling Parkinson's Disease for several years. Funeral arrangements are still being made.
Several politicians expressed their sympathies for Isakson's passing.
"No one I have served with in the Senate was kinder or more universally respected by his colleagues than Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia," tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio.
"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," said Gov. Brian Kemp in a statement.
"U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson served the whole of Georgia with attention and fairness. With every interaction, my respect for him grew and never wavered. Though we held different ideologies, I was honored to call him friend," tweeted gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
"If you had a vote in the Senate on who's the most respected and well-liked member, Johnny would win probably 100 to nothing," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2019.
Isakson served as a real estate executive before advancing to the Georgia state House in the 1970s and the state Senate in the 1990s. Isakson would later take over the House seat held by Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1998 after a poor turnout in the election. Concerns about his ethics violations and pressure from Republican colleagues led Gingrich to resign as speaker.
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"Undeterred by several losses early in his political career, he rose to become one of Georgia's most popular politicians before stepping down in late 2019 due to declining health," reports the Journal-Constitution.
Isakson's legislative legacy includes his hand in crafting the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as reforming the Department of Veteran Affairs, immigration policy, and healthcare. He was considered popular with Republicans and Democrats and often emphasized seeking compromises in Congress over partisan politics.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note Johnny Isakson took over the House seat held by Newt Gingrich. He did not replace Gingrich as House speaker.