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Senator reveals Parkinson’s diagnosis

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Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced on Wednesday that he has Parkinson’s disease, but said that diagnosis will not impact his run for reelection in 2016.

“My diagnosis has not impacted my ability to represent the state of Georgia in the U.S. Senate,” Isakson said in a statement.

“I am serving on five Senate committees and am the only Republican serving as chairman of two Senate committees,” he continued. “I am busier and have more responsibility today than ever before in my political career, and… I am eager to take my record of results to the voters of Georgia as I run for re-election in 2016.”

Isakson said he was diagnosed in 2013 after going to see the doctor about stiffness in his arm. He said he’s in the early stages of the disease, and that the only symptoms right now are the arm stiffness and a slower walk.

The Georgia Republican said struggled with whether to disclose his diagnosis publicly, and only recently informed his three children and members of his staff.

“In the end, I decided I should handle my personal health challenge with the same transparency that I have championed throughout my career,” Isakson said.

The Georgia Republican also released a lengthy statement from his neurologist, Dr. Thomas Holmes, who made the original diagnosis.

Holmes said Isakson is just beyond the first of five stages of the disease, where the afflicted suffer only mild symptoms.

There is no cure for the disease, but Holmes said Isakson is on medication aimed at limiting the symptoms, and that the senator has adhered to a rigid schedule of physical therapy.

“[Isakson] has continued to maintain his rigorous Senate schedule without difficulty since 2012,” Holmes said. “I believe he is fully capable of continuing to perform his duties as a U.S. Senator, and I believe he is fully capable of running for re-election and serving for another term.”

Georgia is a safe seat for Senate Republicans heading into 2016. Former Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.), who didn’t seek reelection in 2004, was the last Democrat to hold a Senate seat there. Miller supported former president George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

There have been some rumbling that Isakson could see a primary challenger in the state, but no viable candidates have emerged.

Isakson would have a big money advantage over any potential challengers. He raised more than $1.6 million in the first quarter and ended March with almost $3.8 million on hand.

“No one works harder than Johnny Isakson, who is the only Senator who is chairing two committees in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement Wednesday. “This diagnosis will not slow him down one bit.”

Source: The Hill

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