Congressman Doug Collins, who is one of President Trump’s biggest defenders, wants to challenge United States Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp. Collins applied for the job, but Kemp chose Loeffler instead to replace retiring Senator Johnny Isakson.
“It just makes people make some pretty difficult choices,” said WSB Political Analyst Bill Crane of a potential race between Collins and Loeffler in the November special election. Do they support the president, or do they support the governor?
The political dynamics are fascinating.
It could create a potential nightmare for Republicans, if Democrats put up a united candidate, while Loeffler and Collins split the GOP vote. In that scenario, “The Republican Party could very well lose that seat,” Crane said.
Candidates from all parties will appear on the same ballot in the election, unless state lawmakers create a partisan primary. Governor Kemp is promising to veto any effort to end the so-called “jungle primary.”
Collins is working with Democrats in the Georgia legislature and Republican House Speaker David Ralston to have the rules changed to a partisan primary.
Atlanta’s Evening News host WSB’s Erick Erickson said that may not be a good idea. “Collins is going to fracture the Republican party,” Erickson said.
Kemp was hoping the GOP would be united behind Loeffler in the race to fill the remaining two years of Isakson’s seat, but it’s shaping up to be anything but that for Republicans.
“It will make a very interesting and spirited open primary race, and will divide the Georgia Republican party base,” Crane said.
As for who might be favored between Collins and Loeffler, Crane gives the edge to Collins, who has been a vocal defender of President Trump during the impeachment process. “Activist Republicans, who are most likely to show up and participate and vote early, are going to be leaning in support of their president and Doug Collins,” Crane said.
It remains to be seen how many Democrats will enter the race. So far, entrepreneur Matt Lieberman and federal prosecutor Ed Tarver have said they will run. The Rev. Rafael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church is also considering a run.
However, infighting among Republicans may encourage a higher profile candidate to get into the race. “This will put pressure on Stacey Abrams, in particular, to give another look at running for that seat,” Crane said.
Democrats were already eyeing Georgia with two U.S. Senate races up for grabs. Republican Senator David Perdue is also up for re-election.