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Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

Johnny Isakson

Johnny Isakson was born in Atlanta on December 28, 1944. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1966 and opened a real estate firm in 1967. He served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972, and became very active in Republican politics. In 1976, after an earlier unsuccessful attempt, Isakson was elected to represent eastern Cobb County in the state assembly. He served in that position until 1990, when he ran unsuccessfully for governor. He was elected to represent the Cobb County area in the state senate from 1993-1996, and to the 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999-2005. In 2004, Isakson won a seat in the U.S. Senate where he has become known as an advocate for far-right positions on social issues, a strong supporter of tax cuts, and a co-author of the No Child Left Behind Act. His current term expires in 2011.; Interviewed by Mel Steely on February 11, 2002 at Isakson's Cobb County office.; The interview begins with a discussion on Isakson's childhood in Atlanta and Brookhaven, his parents, his grandparents, and his early education. He had interesting experiences during and just after college, as the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement were prevalent. As a result of a motivational speaker, Isakson was convinced to run for an office and become an active member of politics. He had an unsuccessful first race, but later ran again and became the only Republican to win a race against a Democrat in Georgia legislature in the year that Jimmy Carter became president. Isakson talks about his proximity to scandals and issue within the Senate and Congress. He then answers Dr. Steely's question about which office he preferred, he says he enjoyed both of them and has no regrets. As for his opportunity to see great change over his tenure in the government, he says that there is no complacency in politics anymore, and he says that has been the best change in the last 25 years. Isakson also talks about the importance of budgets and how they should have the chance to be amended if necessary.