Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson will step down at the end of 2019

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Stacey Abrams on White House run

Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson is stepping down at the end of 2019, meaning that the state will have two high-profile Senate races in 2020. Republican Governor Brian Kemp will select a temporary replacement for Isakson, also a Republican, before a special election in November 2020.

In a statement, Isakson said that he was retiring due to "health challenges." Isakson, who was elected in 2016, has Parkinson's disease.

"I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff," Isakson said. "My Parkinson's has been progressing, and I am continuing physical therapy to recover from a fall in July. In addition, this week I had surgery to remove a growth on my kidney."

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Republican Senator David Perdue is also up for re-election in 2020. Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has declined to challenge Perdue, and soon after Isakson announced he would be leaving the Senate, Abrams was quick to say she wouldn't be running for his seat either.

She tweeted a statement by her spokesman Wednesday saying she's "committed to helping Democratic candidates win both Senate races next year."

In April, Abrams announced she would not challenge Perdue for his Senate seat.

"I am so grateful for all of the support and encouragement I have received from fellow Georgians, to leaders of Congress and beyond. However, the fights to be waged require a deep commitment to the job, and I do not see the U.S Senate as the best role for me in this battle for our nation's future," said Abrams.

Abrams also said that she would not be running for president earlier this month.

Abrams told The New York Times that she believed the "strongest contribution" that she could give to the presidential primary would be to "make sure our nominee is coming into an environment where there's strong voter protections in place." After narrowly losing the Georgia gubernatorial race in the fall, Abrams has focused on promoting and strengthening voter rights. Some Democrats, including Abrams, believe that problems with voter access in the state resulted in voter suppression in the 2018 elections. The House Oversight Committee is investigating the reports of voter suppression.

First published on August 28, 2019 / 11:58 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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