By Walter Jones –
ATLANTA – As Sen. Saxby Chambliss flew home to Georgia in January at the end of his career in elective office, for Sen. Johnny Isakson and Sen. David Perdue the scene was reminiscent of the ending of the 1942 film classic “Casablanca” where Humphrey Bogart said to Claude Raines’s character, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Perdue has been in the Senate three months, a political newcomer replacing the state’s senior senator who’d served 20 years between the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and a former chairman of major committees.
Just as important, he was replacing half of a two-man legislative team based on a 52-year friendship that began when Chambliss and Isakson were at the University of Georgia together and married sorority sisters.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my relationship with David Perdue is every bit as positive for the state of Georgia as mine with Saxby was,” Isakson said in an interview last week with Morris News.
Although Perdue and Isakson are both Republicans like Chambliss, that’s no guarantee of cooperation.
“Nothing’s worse than to have two United States senators from the same state working against one another,” Isakson said.
States only get two senators, and if they constantly vote opposite one another, they cancel each other out, effectively leaving the state with no vote in the Senate.
Even though Perdue graduated from Georgia Tech, he’s meshed from the beginning like the two UGA Bulldogs did because the focus is on relationships and results rather than ego, he said.
“Johnny and I have a great working relationship. He’s a great guy, plain and simple,” Perdue said. “At the end of the day, we are both here to roll up our sleeves and work for Georgians. And it’s encouraging that we can collaborate on the issues important to our great state.”
Isakson credits Perdue with recognizing that the federal government works differently than the corporate world and that the Senate doesn’t function like a boardroom.
“He’s done a good job of listening and learning, asking the right questions,” Isakson said.
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