Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said he would consider the idea of filling the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) at the end of the year.
Collins, 53, said he was humbled to be among those being considered by Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
“To be considered for that, I’m humbled by folks who are considering me for that, it is something I would look at,” he said on Fox News on Thursday, Aug. 29. “But right now we’re focused on the fact that Johnny is such a leader in Georgia and how we go forward. The groundwork he has laid has made Georgia much, much better.”
Collins then praised Isakson, 74, for his time as an elected official.
“Well first and foremost, Georgia has suffered an amazing loss. Johnny Isakson is a man of stature, he is one of the politicians that have come forward and shown what leadership and statesmanship is like,” he said. “Georgia is suffering right now from that loss and we in Georgia stand on his shoulders because he has provided Republican leadership for so long.”
In a statement on Twitter, Collins said, “Senator Isakson has been a standard of statesmanship for decades. He’s always drawn on his extensive roots in our state to deepen his advocacy for all Georgians. He remembers the forgotten, including our veterans. I’ve looked up to him as a mentor and still work to emulate him.”
Isakson, who has been in the senate since 2005, announced his impending retirement on Wednesday.
After much prayer and consultation with my family and doctors, I have made the very tough decision to leave the U.S. Senate at the end of 2019. It has been the honor of a lifetime serving the state of Georgia. This decision pains me greatly but I know it is the right thing to do.
— Johnny Isakson (@SenatorIsakson) August 28, 2019
“After much prayer and consultation with my family and my doctors, I have made the very tough decision to leave the U.S. Senate at the end of this year,” Isakson said in a statement.
He cited his fall in July, which left him with broken ribs, and the Parkinson’s disease he suffers from, as well as surgery he had recently to remove a growth from his kidney.
Isakson was set to serve until 2022 but he will now leave office at the end of the year, meaning Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint a temporary replacement. Isakson said he had informed Kemp, a Republican, of his retirement.
Kemp’s appointee will hold the seat from early 2020 until November when it will be up for grabs in a special election.
Georgia’s other U.S. Senate seats are already going to be contested next year. First-term Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is running for re-election. Several Democrats have already announced challenges for the seat.
Along with Collins, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and Georgia Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller are among the names being bandied about to potentially hold the seat until the special election. Carr and Miller praised Isakson in statements and have not mentioned the possibility of being nominated to the vacancy.
The 2020 election will put the Republicans’ Senate majority further at risk. Currently holding a 53-47 majority after gaining two seats in 2018, 23 Republican seats are up for election next year, versus 12 seats held by Democrats.
Statement from my spokesman: pic.twitter.com/0smIAb5ptA
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 28, 2019
On the Democratic side, former gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams said she would not be vying for the Georgia seat.
Kemp, in a statement following Isakson’s announcement, said, “No one embodies the heart and soul of Georgia more than Johnny Isakson. Our state and country have been immeasurably blessed by his leadership.”
“I will appoint Senator Isakson’s replacement at the appropriate time,” he added.
His office noted that the Georgia Constitution dictates that any public office that becomes vacant by death, resignation, or otherwise, shall be filled by the governor.
“Such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term by the vote of the electors of the state at a special election to be held at the time of the next November state-wide general election,” the law states.