ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) --  US senior senator Johnny Isakson dropped a political bombshell Wednesday morning when he announced his retirement from politics.

The three-term senator’s battle with Parkinson’s disease was well known to Georgians who re-elected him by a wide margin in 2016.

Now he says his health problems are forcing him to step down. The news is hard on his many friends at the state capitol where he began his career in the Georgia House of Representatives -- a political and a personal bombshell for those who follow Georgia politics.

Senator Isakson's skills and popularity won him friends on both sides of the aisle and sent him to Washington, first in the US House representing north Atlanta and then in the US Senate.

In recent years is has been hard to overlook how the Senator’s steps were slowing as Parkinson’s disease advanced. His surprise resignation note referred to fresh trouble with a kidney, and this sad sentence, "It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know its the right thing to do on behalf of my state.”

Republican Party leader John Watson was deeply saddened by the news.

"We re losing first and foremost a pioneer, a statesman, incredible man and Georgian. He’s not dead. No, thank the Lord not. Nonetheless ... capably represented not just party, but loss. Beneficiary of his time what a great lion in our state and in our country."

Senator Isakson will return to the nation’s capitol in September, while Governor Kemp is handed one of the rarest political plums: appointing someone to the US Senate.

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