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Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson abruptly resigns in blow to Republican chances of holding Senate


FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, file photo, Chairman Johnny Isakson, of Georgia, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) abruptly announced his resignation Wednesday, dealing a blow to Republican chances of holding the Senate in the 2020 election.

Isakson said he was quitting at the end of the year for health reasons, citing a battle with Parkinson’s disease and a kidney ailment.

The state’s Republican governor Brian Kemp will appoint a successor to serve till a special election will likely be held at the same time as the presidential election in November 2020. No Democrats immediately threw their hat in the ring for Isakson’s seat.

Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost a contentious race for governor, would likely be a favorite for the Democratic nod if she decided to run. But she passed up another Senate race and is considered a top vice presidential option for the eventual Democratic nominee.

The move puts two GOP-held Senate seats at stake in the Peach State in the watershed 2020 vote. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the all-important upper chamber, which approves Supreme Court judges among other key roles.

GOP senators are playing defense in several key states, including Arizona, Maine and Colorado. But Doug Jones (R-Ala.) looks like a long shot to hold onto his seat in the deep red state.