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Isakson stresses need for bipartisanship in farewell speech: "Find a way to find common ground"

Isakson calls for bipartisanship in farewell speech

Republican Senator Johnny Isakson delivered his official farewell address Tuesday afternoon on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The 74-year-old Georgia lawmaker announced in August that he would step down in December, with more than two years left in his term, as he struggles with the effects of Parkinson's disease.

The senator used his farewell address to advocate for bipartisanship in a changing country. "The best country in the world, the strongest country in the world, cannot succumb to crushing itself inwardly because we looked the other way from the challenges of life. And the challenges of life are America is changing," he said. 

Isakson also noted his admiration for and close friendship with Democratic Representative John Lewis, and reminded the gathered lawmakers of his own personal slogan: "friends and future friends."

"Whether you're black or white, Republican or Democrat, whatever it might be, find a way to find common ground. Give it a chance to work, and if it doesn't, be a future friend. That's my slogan," Isakson said. "... Friends and future friends is what it's all about ... life is a win-win proposition if you'll do it ... but you have to command it no matter what side of the transition you're on."

"Bipartisanship will be a way you accomplish things, a way you live, a state of being. It will be the end of a bad time and the beginning of a new one, and I'm going to live long enough to see both."

Johnny Isakson
Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, walks to the Senate floor to give his farewell speech Tuesday, December 3, 2019, on Capitol Hill. Alex Brandon / AP

Isakson's exit — which follows a 45-year public service career — means both of Georgia's Republican-held Senate seats are up for grabs in 2020.  

On Wednesday, Governor Brian Kemp is expected to appoint Kelly Loeffler, the multimillionaire CEO of the financial services firm Bakkt and part owner of Atlanta's WNBA team, as Isakson's replacement. Loeffler has secured an endorsement from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, The Wall Street Journal reports

Loeffler's appointment may come as a disappointment to President Trump, who had hoped to see House GOP ally U.S. Representative Doug Collins fill the seat. Loeffler's opponents within the state have criticized her party loyalty.

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