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Former Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson dies at 76

Former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., known for his genial personality and work on education and Veterans Affairs reformed, died Sunday at the age of 76. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI. | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/d28628a6ac6a6f30ee9b4836b3ae30f6/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., known for his genial personality and work on education and Veterans Affairs reformed, died Sunday at the age of 76. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI. | License Photo

Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, died on Sunday, his family said. He was 76.

Isakson died Sunday morning at his home in Atlanta his family and former chief of staff Hath Garrett confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post respectively.

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He served in the U.S. Congress from 1999-2019 when he resigned on Dec. 31, citing worsening health from Parkinson's disease, after he was re-elected to a third term in the Senate in 2016.

Isakson was born in 1944 and grew up in South Fulton, Ga., and attended the University of Georgia before volunteering for Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign at the very start of his political career.

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After joining the Georgia Air National Guard and working as a realtor for a stint, Isakson launched his first campaign for Cobb County Commission in 1974 but lost.

He was eventually elected to the Georgia state House in 1976 and rose to the title of Republican leader in 1983 before launching a failed bid for governor in 1990.

In 1992 he won a seat on the state Senate and in 1996 ought to run for the U.S. Senate but was defeated by businessman Guy Millner, who accused him of not being suffiently conservative.

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As Isakson prepared to return to real estate, he received an offer from Democratic Gov. Zell Miller to run the state's Bord of Education before finally making his way to the U.S. House in 1999, replacing Newt Gingrich after he stepped down following the 1998 midterms.

Isakson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, becoming the only Georgia politician to have been elected to the state House, state Senate and both chambers of Congress.

Throughout his career, Isakson was known for his genial personality and willingness to reach across the aisle as he worked to craft the No Child Left Behind education law and its eventual replacement, as well as reforms of the Department of Veterans Affairs, immigration policy and health care.

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"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 Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2019. "His demeanor is quite different from what most people expect of politicians."

Gov. Brian Kempt appointed Kelly Loefler to fill the vacant seat in January 2020 and she lost to Raphael Warnock in a special election in November but the Demorat faces another election for a full term next November.

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Betty White attends the media preview for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's Beastly Ball fundraiser at the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles on June 11, 2015. The actress died December 31. She was 99 years old. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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