As Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is set to step down from his seat in the U.S. Senate due to his declining health, Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is about to announce his pick to fill Isakson’s seat. A special election will be held in 2020 to determine who will hold the seat until the senator’s term expires in 2022.
Unfortunately, Kemp appears to be on the verge of ignoring a request from President Donald Trump and his conservative supporters about who to name for the Senate seat. Instead, he is reportedly picking someone that many conservatives view as an establishment-backed RINO with troubling ties, Breitbart reports.
Kemp to nominate Loeffler
President Trump and many others have reportedly urged Gov. Kemp to appoint Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) to fill Isakson’s seat. Collins is a close ally of the president and a staunch conservative who is currently the ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, where he has effectively defended the president against the decidedly anti-Trump chairman, Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
Unfortunately, all signs point to Kemp instead nominating business executive Kelly Loeffler as Isakson’s replacement. The appointment could be made official as soon as Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Monday.
Loeffler has reportedly received the backing of the party establishment National Republican Senatorial Committee, which plans to treat her as if she were the incumbent and defend her against any Republican primary challengers in 2020 — such as Collins — if she is named.
Ties to Planned Parenthood, Democrats
Breitbart reported separately that many conservatives have substantial qualms regarding the appointment of Loeffler, who is the CEO of a bitcoin trading platform known as Bakkt and also is a co-owner of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise Atlanta Dream.
Loeffler’s WNBA team has significant ties via the league to Planned Parenthood, and the team has openly advocated for abortion rights as well as against other issues that many social conservatives view as important, and several pro-life groups have announced opposition to Loeffler. Furthermore, the team also has ties to failed Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, who is on the board of the WNBA’s Players Association and has paired with the Atlanta team to work on various issues.
On top of that, Loeffler is also known to have contributed upwards of $750,000 to a PAC supporting Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 presidential campaign, as well as hundreds of thousands more to former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his affiliated PACs, not to mention other Democrat politicians and PACs in years past. Meanwhile, she didn’t support Trump in his 2016 campaign and has only recently donated $100,000 to his 2020 re-election PAC.
Her record stands in stark contrast to that of Rep. Collins and has caused many conservatives to have substantial reservations about whether Loeffler will truly be a strong conservative ally for President Trump in the state of Georgia. That she has no voting record and has yet to give an interview isn’t doing anything to reassure conservatives.
Loeffler appointment could result in lost Senate seat
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported previously that Kemp’s “defiance” of President Trump in picking Loeffler over Collins as Isakson’s replacement could alienate the base and cause a rift within the Republican Party that could potentially prove beneficial to Democrats in the 2020 special election.
Collins has suggested that he is “strongly” considering running for the seat if not appointed, and given that other Republican candidates have also already thrown their hats in the ring for that seat, there is the possibility that the Republican vote could be split multiple ways while a single Democrat candidate could unite the vote to win the seat until 2022.
None of this is good for Republicans as the 2020 election cycle approaches. Party unity is increasingly necessary amid the ongoing impeachment fever on Capitol Hill, and though Kemp has every right as governor to nominate whoever he wants as Isakson’s replacement, there are potentially dire consequences to messing this one up.