Isakson was born and raised in suburban Atlanta Cobb County, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and Gridiron Secret Society.
Isakson has been a "fixture" in the Georgia Republican Party since 1974, and won a seat in the Georgia State House of Representatives in 1976. After moving up the House Republican leadership ranks, he ran for governor in 1990. He lost, but was elected to Georgia's state senate in 1993. He ran for the US Senate in 1996 but lost the GOP nomination in a runoff. He represented Newt Gingrich's old 6th district from the time he won a special election in 1999 to 2004, when he ran for the Senate (the open seat was then won by Republican Tom Price).
Due to the financial advantage and his own personal popularity, Isakson managed to pull off 53% of the vote in his July 20 primary, avoiding a runoff. He was so heavily favored to win in November that the Senate Republicans already began debating which committees he would join. Democratic opponent Denise Majette tried her best, but Isakson won easily. Ironically, he is actually less conservative than the "Democrat" he replaced, Zell Miller.
The reasons for Isakson's defeat in 1996 also threatened him in the 2004 primary. He is quite popular statewide, but in a primary, many social conservatives saw him as moderate (which is now as bad as the dreaded liberal in the Georgia GOP). The litmus test is abortion. Johnny has become far more pro-life over the past few years, but his two opponents, Mac Collins and Herman Cain, had the backing of Georgia's influential Christian Right voting bloc.
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