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Gov. Brian Kemp talks last week about finding a replacement for retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of the year, for health reasons, with two years left in his term.

MARIETTA — Gov. Brian Kemp is inviting expressions of interest for the replacement of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who will retire mid-term at the end of the year.

Kemp encourages all Georgians keen on serving in the U.S. Senate to submit their name and qualifications on his website.

“We will carefully vet the applicants and choose a person who best reflects our values, our state and our vision for the future,” Kemp stated in a press release last week, adding that additional details will be made public by his office “at the appropriate time.”

Hours earlier, Kemp sat down to talk about the process of replacing Isakson, whose last day on the job will be Dec. 31.

Isakson, 74, who lives in east Cobb, announced his retirement on Aug. 28, citing health reasons for his early departure from office. His term ends at the start of 2023 and his replacement will be subject to a special election in November 2020.

Kemp said he has already received interest from a large number of candidates, but has not drawn up a list of potential replacements.

This is the first time he has had the opportunity to appoint a U.S. senator.

“It might be easier to give you the short list of who’s not on the list,” Kemp joked when asked who was in the running. “There’s a lot of qualified people. A lot of people have shown interest, but I’m also keeping a very open mind that there might be people out there who haven’t shown interest but might be a good candidate.”

Kemp also has no deadline for appointing someone to the role and said he will be methodical and mindful throughout the process.

“I don’t want to make a rash, snap decision because I know this person is going to be thoroughly vetted in many, many different ways,” he said, adding it’s not going to be easy for Isakson’s successor.

“You’re talking about a 2020 jungle primary, potentially a runoff and then they’ll be right back on the ballot in 2022 so it’s not for the fainthearted,” Kemp said.

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