Points By Drew Pritt

McCain could tap Johnny Isakson as Veep!
June 29, 2008, 2:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Enter into the lists as a potential running mate a new name that has popped up….U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) The mild mannered Isakson could be the right choice to counter the Libertarian bid by former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), and maybe hold the Deep South for the Republicans.

Isakson is the owner of Northside Realty which has became the biggest independent real estate company in Georgia. 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. He served seven terms in the House, the last two as minority leader. He was the Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia in 1990, losing to then-Lt. Governor Zell Miller (D). Two years later, he was elected to the Georgia Senate and served two terms.

In 1996 he ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sam Nunn. However, when he announced his candidacy, he declared that he was the pro-choice Republican candidate. Isakson finished first in the primary election but did not win a majority of total votes. Therefore, per Georgia law he was forced into a primary runoff election, which he lost to multimillionaire, Guy Millner, who would go onto lose to then-Secretary of State Max Cleland.

In January 1999, 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 two months earlier. Amid the ruckus, Gingrich decided not only to resign as Speaker, but also not to take his seat for an eleventh term. Isakson ran for the seat in a special election in February and won by 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 Georgia, and Isakson never faced a truly serious or well-financed challenge in either election. In early 2003, Zell Miller by then a U.S. Senator 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. Though he faced U.S. Congressman Mac Collins (R) and millionaire Herman Cain, who is African-American, in the primary, Isakson won without the need for a runoff. In the general election, he defeated the Democratic candidate, 4th District Congresswoman Denise Majette, also who is African-American, by 16 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.

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. He has moved right on many issues though largely ignores the issue of a woman’s right to choose. 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 to the President and Congress that measurable border security provisions are in place.

All in all, Isakson tends to be fiscally conservative, business-oriented, and moderate on civil rights issues. Isakson is a 1966 graduate of the University of Georgia and he served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966 to 1972. Johnny and his wife, Dianne, have three children and eight grandchildren. Johnny and Dianne have been married 40 years, and they attend Mount Zion United Methodist Church, where Johnny taught sixth grade Sunday School for 30 years.


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