John Hardy "Johnny" Isakson (born December 28, 1944) is the junior United States Senator from Georgia and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, he represented Georgia's 6th Congressional district in the House.
A second-generation Swedish-American,Isakson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a Greyhound bus driver.He currently lives in the nearby suburb of Marietta. He served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966 to 1972, leaving service as a staff sergeant.Shortly after graduating from the University of Georgia, he opened the first Cobb County office of Northside Realty, a prominent Atlanta-area real estate firm. He became company president in 1979, a post he held for 22 years, during which Northside became the biggest independent real estate company in Georgia. Isakson and his wife Dianne have three children: John, Kevin, and Julie.
Isakson first entered Republican politics in 1974, losing a race for the Georgia House of Representatives in an eastern Cobb County district. He ran again in 1976 and won. governor of Georgia in 1990, losing to Democratic lieutenant governor Zell Miller. Two years later, he was elected to the Georgia Senate and served two terms. In 1996 he ran in the Republican primary for the Senate seat being vacated by Sam Nunn. However, when he announced his candidacy, he declared that he was the abortion rights Republican candidate—a calculated risk since most Georgia Republicans are anti-abortion. Isakson finished second in the primary election but the winner Guy Millner did not win a majority of total votes. Therefore, per Georgia law he was forced into a primary runoff election, which he lost to Millner. Millner in turn lost to Democrat Max Cleland. In November 1998, 6th District Congressman and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich faced a revolt in his caucus after the Republicans lost five seats in the midterm elections. Amid the ruckus, Gingrich announced on Friday after the Tuesday elections not only that he would not run for a third term as Speaker, but he would also not take his seat for an eleventh term beginning in January 1999. Isakson ran for the seat in a special election in February and won, finishing 40 points ahead of the runner-up. He won a full term in 2000 and was reelected in 2002. The 6th is one of the most Republican districts in the South, and Isakson never faced a truly serious or well-financed challenge in either election. In early 2003, conservative Democratic Senator Zell Miller—who had been appointed to fill out the term of the late Republican Senator Paul Coverdell and elected to the post in his own right in 2000—declared his intention not to run for a full term in the Senate in 2004. Isakson immediately entered the race. He quickly picked up the endorsements of much of the Republican establishment in Georgia, as well as that of President George W. Bush. He also picked up support of social conservatives including the Georgia Christian Coalition, in part due to his rightward turn on social issues since 1990 (see below). Miller also endorsed Isakson and campaigned for him. He faced 8th District Congressman Mac Collins and businessman Herman Cain in the primary. It was initially thought Isakson would face a difficult primary since many socially conservative Republicans still felt chagrin at Isakson's declared support for abortion rights in 1990. However, he easily won the nomination in the first round of voting, with 53 percent of the vote, with Cain a distant second and Collins third. In the general election, he easily defeated the Democratic candidate, 4th District Congresswoman Denise Majette, by 18 points. Isakson's election marked the first time in Georgia's history that both of the state's U.S. Senate seats had been held by Republicans, as Saxby Chambliss had won the other seat by defeating Nunn's successor, Max Cleland, two years earlier. Isakson was re-elected to the Senate in 2010. He was unopposed for the Republican nomination. State Commissioner of Labor Mike Thurmond was his Democratic opponent.
He served seven terms in the House, the last two as Minority leader. He was the Republican candidate for
Since his election to the House, Isakson shifted to the right on social issues. He now identifies as pro-life, anti-gay marriage and pro-gun rights. On the Issues, a nonpartisan Web site that rates candidates, labels Isakson "a libertarian-leaning conservative." When he ran in the 6th District in 1999, Isakson largely ignored the issue of abortion; however, in 2003–2004, in his campaign for the Senate, he took the same position as President Bush, saying we needed to "create a culture of life" in America.Isakson has been given an "A" rating by the National Rifle Association, the "Hero of the Taxpayer" award by Citizens Against Government Waste, and a "92" rating on a scale of 100 by the Christian Coalition of America (incidentally, the same score Mac Collins received). He also received a "100" rating from the American Conservative Union. National Journal recently rated him the 7th most conservative Senator in the Senate. In the Senate, Isakson is currently working to oppose the Castle-DeGette Stem Cell Bill by offering an alternative that does not allow for the destruction of a human embryo. This alternative legislation recently garnered a veto-proof 70-vote majority. Isakson favors tougher border security to address the immigration issue. He is credited for developing the "Isakson Principle," which denies the legalization of status to any illegal immigrant or the creation of a temporary worker program unless the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies ("triggers") to the president and Congress that measurable border security provisions are in place. However, Isakson was criticized by advocates of immigration reduction for working on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which was criticized by some as an amnesty. Contrary to his critics' assertions, Isakson only played a role in drafting the border security sections of the bill (the previously mentioned "Isakson Principle") and stated from the beginning that he was withholding his support for the bill until the final product was produced. His vote of "Nay" on the final motion to end debate amounted to a vote to kill the bill. He and Senator Chambliss also called on President Bush to send an emergency supplemental border security spending bill to the Congress.
June 10th, 2011