Georgia Gang panelists discuss Isakson departure

The news of Senator Johnny Isakson's resignation sent shock waves through the state's political circles.

"The announced resignation of Senator Johnny Isakson does come as a surprise to a lot of people, especially political observers," explained Georgia Gang panelist Phil Kent.

Sen. Isakson has served the citizens of Georgia since he was first elected to the state legislature in 1974.  He cited recent health challenges as the reason he has decided to step down.  

"He's been that moderate voice in the senate and even when he was a congressman, he was a person that had a reputation and still has the reputation, for working across the aisle to get things done for Georgians," said the Georgia Gang's Tharon Johnson.  

Isakson's departure means all eyes will be on Georgia over the next 15 months.  Voters were already headed to the polls to decide the presidential race in November 2020 as well as whether to reelect Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia and several members of Congress.  Now, both of the state's senate seats will be on the ballot.

Governor Brian Kemp will choose a temporary replacement to fill Isakson's seat until next year's election.  The governor could choose one of two paths, appoint someone he believes will be a strong candidate for the seat in 2020 or choose someone to simply act as a place holder.    

"Electability is going to paramount with the governor as he makes his decision," said Johnson.  "There's a tremendous opportunity here for him to select and appoint someone that can run for the seat in November 2020 and then turn around and run again in 2022.  Or he could do something that is a little [nontraditional] and probably put forth a woman.  It could even possibly be a woman of color.  I mean, this is a governor that we've seen that has made some very interesting judicial picks across the state."  

Kent said President Donald Trump, Senator Perdue and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will likely have some input on who Governor Kemp selects.

"I think that the governor would pick somebody that can be an incumbent right away and can have already a political base," said Kent.  "It might be a republican congressman that he might want to pick.  It might be someone who is very popular in the business community.  That's how David Perdue got his start."  

Sonny Perdue, Former Congressman Jack Kingston and Attorney General Chris Carr are all names that analysts have mentioned could be part of the discussion.  

The second senate race also means more democrats will enter the race.  Some believe DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, State Senator Jen Jordan and former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff could be viable candidates