Georgia House speaker wants to rename port for Sen. Isakson

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — One of Georgia's most powerful lawmakers wants to rename the Port of Savannah for former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Republican state House Speaker David Ralston plans to sponsor a proposal in the legislature next year to put Isakson's name on the port, Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen said Friday.

Isakson, also a Republican, retired at the end of last year after 15 years in the Senate and more than four decades in Georgia politics. He cited the increasing toll of health problems including Parkinson's disease.

Ralston believes Isakson earned the honor of having his name on the port because of his long career helping build Georgia's economy and his support for the booming seaport, McMichen said. That includes Isakson's efforts to ensure the federal government funded its share of a $973 million deepening of Savannah's shipping channel, a project that's still underway.

"It is only fitting then that one of this state’s most important economic engines, our Port of Savannah, should bear Senator Isakson’s name,” McMichen said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville tweeted Friday that he wants to introduce a similar resolution in Congress. Collins is giving up his House seat to run in the special election next Tuesday for Isakson's seat, currently held by appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

The Port of Savannah is the fourth-busiest U.S. seaport for cargo shipped in containers — large metal boxes used to transport goods from consumer electronics to frozen chickens. The port handled 4.44 million container units in the 2020 fiscal year.