Loading...

Kelly Loeffler to Have Powerful Ally After She’s Tapped to Fill Georgia Senate Seat

December 3, 2019by Greg Bluestein
Kelly Loeffler to Have Powerful Ally After She’s Tapped to Fill Georgia Senate Seat

ATLANTA — When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announces Wednesday that he’s picked financial executive Kelly Loeffler for an open U.S. Senate seat, she’ll have some powerful backup to help defend her new post.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will support Loeffler, giving her a key political ally as she faces a potential GOP challenge, according to two people with direct knowledge of the decision.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported last week that Kemp will appoint Loeffler to the seat despite President Donald Trump’s endorsement of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term congressman who is one of his top advocates in the U.S. House.

Kemp is set to announce Loeffler’s pick Wednesday morning. He’s putting the final touches on the rollout for the political newcomer, a financial executive who can self-fund her campaign but has drawn the scorn of some conservative critics.

At a recent breakfast with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is vacating the seat at year’s end because of health issues, the three-term incumbent also repeated his pledge to Kemp to support whoever the governor picks for the seat.

And Kemp resumed calling state elected officials to personally inform them of the pick. The announcement was set for Wednesday so it didn’t interfere with Isakson’s farewell speech, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. Senate.

Loeffler, meanwhile, started introducing herself to her soon-to-be colleagues. She spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by phone in what a senior Republican official described as a positive conversation.

She was told she’d be treated as an incumbent with the full support of the NRSC, the political arm of the Senate GOP whose support could help her defend against a possible primary challenge, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the private conversation.

Loeffler, a first-time candidate who would be the second female U.S. senator in state history, might need the support.

Collins told the Journal-Constitution two weeks ago that he’s “strongly” considering a run for the seat if he’s not appointed. Trump has directly pressed Kemp to appoint Collins at least three times.

And Loeffler’s been targeted by conservative activists who have scrutinized her degree of support for Trump, questioned her past campaign contributions to Democrats and tried to depict her as a closet liberal.

Among the latest is Mark Levin, the radio host and ally of Trump who called Kemp “another Romney” on Twitter. “He’s about to appoint a RINO to the Senate. His surrogates are trashing conservative critics like Gaetz,” Levin wrote.

The out-of-state umbrage might be just fine for Kemp and his aides. They’d much rather mock non-Georgians — see last week’s conflagration with Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida — than knock the in-state activists who are critical of his decision.

It’s a convenient way to shift the narrative away from one that frames Kemp as someone willing to ignore Trump’s personal pleas, and toward a view that casts the governor as defiantly standing against what is now the party’s establishment.

Meanwhile, Kemp’s supporters have started to give him some cover for his presumptive pick of Loeffler.

Former state lawmaker Buzz Brockway and Cole Muzio of the Family Policy Alliance of Georgia have been outspoken in their pleas for faith in Kemp’s decisions.

And Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, who applied for the seat, praised the governor’s tactical decision in planning to pick a woman and business executive.

“Kelly, or any outstanding conservative woman, helps Republicans win back suburban women who seem to have left our party in the last cycle,” he said. “The governor knows what he’s doing.”

Still, wary state Republicans are nervous about a lasting rift. The board of the Georgia Young Republicans also voted unanimously to back Kemp in whoever he picks, nodding to the acrimony already dividing some Georgia conservatives.

“Unity sometimes means swallowing pride and ambition and doing what is best for the party,” said Andrew Abbott, a spokesman for the group.

———

©2019 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News

Health

Voting

May 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Deep South Primaries a Test of Conservative Credibility

WASHINGTON — If any common themes are emerging from the primaries being held on Tuesday in Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas,... Read More

WASHINGTON — If any common themes are emerging from the primaries being held on Tuesday in Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas, it is that the voters in each state appear to be highly motivated and they’re looking for candidates — in the Republican column, at least —... Read More

May 20, 2022
by Dan McCue
Oil and Gas Titans Embracing Carbon Capture

HOUSTON — Two titans of the Texas oil industry are teaming up on a carbon capture and transportation project they... Read More

HOUSTON — Two titans of the Texas oil industry are teaming up on a carbon capture and transportation project they believe could be the cornerstone of a future low-carbon economy in the heart of oil and gas country. The partners on the ambitious projects are Oxy... Read More

May 20, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Congress Tries to Keep Pace With Electric Vehicle Market

WASHINGTON — Automobile industry advocates suggested on Friday that Congress act quickly to secure a U.S. role in manufacturing electric... Read More

WASHINGTON — Automobile industry advocates suggested on Friday that Congress act quickly to secure a U.S. role in manufacturing electric vehicles before the opportunity slips away to foreign competitors. They testified at a congressional hearing in Pontiac, Michigan, where automobile manufacturers are transitioning from internal combustion... Read More

May 20, 2022
by Reece Nations
FDA Rebuffs Total Ban of Harmful Chemicals in Food Packaging

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Watch what you eat, or at least what your food is exposed to. The Food and... Read More

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Watch what you eat, or at least what your food is exposed to. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday amended its food additive regulations to no longer provide for previously authorized chemicals to be used due to their abandonment by the... Read More

May 20, 2022
by Dan McCue
National Memorial Day Road Closures, Restrictions Announced

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police have announced a series of road closures that will be in effect between Monday,... Read More

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police have announced a series of road closures that will be in effect between Monday, May 16, and Thursday, June 2, to accommodate the National Memorial Day concert. The concert itself will be broadcast live on PBS and streamed online on... Read More

May 20, 2022
by Dan McCue
Wyoming Governor to Chair National Oil and Gas Commission

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has been elected the next chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact... Read More

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has been elected the next chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. The election took place on May 17 at the organization’s most recent business meeting in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Gordon, the son of ranchers from Kaycee,... Read More

News From The Well