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Podcast: The life and legacy of the late Senator Johnny Isakson with Joan Kirchner Carr

Joining the show today to talk about the legacy of the late Senator Johnny Isakson is his former Chief of Staff, Joan Kirchner Carr.

Senator Isakson passed away December 19th after a long and storied career in Georgia politics. Isakson is the only Georgia politician to successfully win elections for the State House, State Senate, United States Congress and United States Senate.

A member of the Georgia Air National Guard and graduate of University of Georgia, Isakson ran a successful real estate firm that at its peak had over 1,000 agents working for it. After an unsuccessful and then successful bid for the Georgia State House in 1974 and 1976, Isakson was the Republican candidate for Governor in 1990, which he would go on to lose to Democrat Zell Miller. Joan talks about his relationship with Governor Miller after that election and the now rare bipartisan working relationship they formed.

In 1992 he would run successfully for a seat in the Georgia Senate, where he served one term, before unsuccessfully running for the United States Senate in 1996 – a race that eventually saw Democrat Max Cleland elected with a 1 point margin.

Isakson then ran in a 1999 special election to replace then US Congressman and Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, which Isakson would handedly win. Finally, he ran for US Senate in 2004 after then Senator Zell Miller opted not to run again, which Isakson won by a wide margin and would go on to be reelected twice – the only Republican Senator from Georgia to win 3 US Senate races.

Joan talks about his time in the Senate Chairing the Veterans Affairs and Ethics Committees, his commitment to constituent services, and his reputation for reaching across the aisle to get bills passed.

After he retired from the US Senate at the end of 2019, he led the formation of The Isakson Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funding for research related to neurocognitive diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and related dementia.

You can read more about The Isakson Initiative HERE.

You can watch Senator Isakson’s UGA Graduation commencement address on the “Six Silent Secrets” HERE.

Connect with Joan Kirchner Carr on Twitter @jkirchnercarr

Connect with The Georgia Politics Podcast on Twitter @gapoliticspod

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