Meet the lawmaker

Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonKey Republicans back VA secretary as talk of firing escalates Frustrated Republicans accuse Paul of forcing pointless shutdown Budget deal is brimming with special tax breaks MORE (R-Ga.)
Residence: Marietta, Ga.
Significant Other: Wife, Dianne
Age: 61

What are you passionate about?

Isakson: My family. I mean I just obviously love my wife and kids, but I’ve spent most of my life with a real passion for children. I’ve taught Sunday school for 29 years. I used to coach youth sports. I try and mentor kids along the way.

What is the last book you read?

Isakson: I [recently] read The World is Flat by Tom Friedman. I’m reading China Inc. now. I just go started on that.

Best moment….

Isakson: From a euphoria standpoint? I’ve had a lot of good moments.

I hate to differentiate which of my kids’ births was the best. My marriage was the best.

Politically, I ran for Senate in 1996 and lost in a runoff. I had been in public life for 20 years and figured my career was over. [Former Sen.] Zell Miller [D-Ga.], who had beaten me for governor of Georgia in 1990, called me up, and he had fired the entire state board of education. He asked me to take over as chairman and let me name the members of the board.

You think your career is over and … out of the blue a phone call comes from someone who beat you six years earlier and they say I want to name you this. There is no question that I wouldn’t be here today if that moment hadn’t happened.

My favorite place in the world is…

Isakson: Lake Rabun, Ga. My wife and I have a house there and have been going there since we were married 38 years ago. It’s just a great little lake in the north Georgia mountains. It’s just one of those perfectly beautiful places.

What is something that shocked you about how Congress operates?

Isakson: Sometimes it doesn’t operate.

Having been in business for 33 years and running a company, it’s a sales organization where absolute production and accomplishment is an everyday goal. To then get in an organization that by its very nature is complex and stodgy and slow with a whole lot of people that are temperamental, that probably would be the biggest frustration. That has been the most shocking thing.

What did you want to be in you were a kid?

Isakson: My first inspiration was to be a garbage man because I had a pet duck and I was about 5 years old. I don’t remember this as much as the family telling the story. My duck got out of its pen, and the garbage man on our route brought him back. My mother used to tell me how because of that great humanitarian effort I wanted to be a garbage man — plus, I thought it would be neat to ride on the back of a truck. But I got over that pretty quick.

What household chore to you like/dislike?

Isakson: Until I got elected to Congress I did all my own yard work and pulled weeds and did all that stuff. Now, living in two cities, that’s impossible, so I miss that. I’m down to taking the newspapers to the recycling centers and taking the garbage to the curb.