Georgia Rep. Doug Collins said Thursday he would be open to taking Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat after the 74-year-old Republican announced he will resign at the end of the year amid health problems.
“You know, to be considered for that, I’m humbled by folks who are considering that,” Collins, a Republican, told Fox News, adding that filling Isakson’s Senate seat “is something that I would look at.”
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It was unclear whether Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, was referring to a potential appointment by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve out the remainder of Isakson’s third term or hinting at a future campaign for Senate.
Kemp, also a Republican, said Wednesday he will name “at the appropriate time” a replacement for Isakson until a 2020 special election. The winner of that race will then have to run for a full six-year term in 2022.
Isakson, who was last reelected in 2016 and chairs the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a statement Wednesday he was leaving the Senate “because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff.” He cited Parkinson’s disease, physical therapy related to a fall in July, and a surgery he underwent earlier this week to remove a growth one of his kidneys.
Isakson’s retirement means Republicans will have to defend both of Georgia’s Senate seats in next year’s elections. Freshman Sen. David Perdue is competing for a second term in 2020 and is a top target for Democrats who see Georgia as an increasingly competitive state.
Collins on Thursday called Isakson “a mentor” whom he has “followed … for years” and said “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,” Collins said, adding: “We in Georgia stand on his shoulders because he has provided Republican leadership for so long.”