"We're in for the Georgia Senate race. I've still got a lot of work to do. We're getting ready for a good time down here," Congressman Doug Collins, (R-GA, 9th District) on Fox News, Wednesday, January 29, 2020.
It began as many family splits do, with an intentional slight, a responding bruised ego, anger and some jousting back. Legendary and iconic GOP U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (though not unfamiliar with primary challenges from his right), announced his plan to retire at the end of 2019, a full year prior to the end of his third and final term in the U.S. Senate.
Kemp knew that this appointment opportunity presented him with potentially one of the greatest legacies of his new governorship, as well as the challenge of holding a prize which many friends and foes alike will covet. One of the most logical names to consider, and believed for some time to have the inside lane on the job was 9th District Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).
Collins is tall, literally stands out in a crowd, has strong opinions and shares them, while representing the most reliably GOP district in the state. His home of Gainesville has been a breeding ground for Georgia GOP leadership for decades, including former Governor Nathan Deal, former Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and numerous longtime leaders in the Georgia General Assembly. In his fourth term, Collins is approaching senior membership on the GOP side of Georgia's congressional delegation. Yet word got out that the Governor and his senior staff were not even taking Congressman Collins’ calls...nor those of his advocates and supporters.
Kemp had already made several outside of the box appointments during his short tenure, including the Hispanic Chief of Police of Doraville, John King, as Acting Insurance Commissioner. And this time, Kemp was not only thinking outside of the box, he further opened up the process to on-line application which culled a few, but drew in hundreds.
In June of 2019, the Governor and First Lady Marty Kemp attended a fundraising gala, to restore a historic chapel and upgrade camper cabins and other facilities at the beloved Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia. The Kemps were seated with entrepreneur Jeff Sprecher, CEO of InterContinental Exchange (ICE) and his wife Kelly Loefller, co-owner of an WNBA franchise and head of ICE's bitcoin/electronic currencies trading group, Bakkt. Loeffler, who grew up on a farm, was also a lifelong Republican and longtime 4-H'er. The pair pledged a reportedly seven-figure gift for the capital campaign to the Governor, taking the evening and the fundraising efforts over the top, and obviously impressing Kemp in the process.
Jump ahead to the waning weeks of November, as Isakson prepared his farewell address in the Senate, and the Governor with some fanfare announced a cut-off deadline for submission of applications. Then, just one hour prior to that cut-off, the last application arrived from Ms. Loeffler. Soon after, Loeffler’s late over the transom submission was announced as the official interim Senate selection.
Collins stated publicly just days prior, that if not considered for the appointment, he might consider a run of his own. While trying to win significant support for his pick, Kemp and Loeffler had made a quiet weekend trip to the Oval Office.
The President inquired if the Governor's mind were already made up...”Then why are we even meeting at all?" Trump then openly lobbied for his preference, the aforementioned Congressman Doug Collins.
Next on January 29, 2020, live on Fox News, Collins made it official, he would be entering the Senate race and that he was 'in it to win it.'
IF Governor Kemp had begun all of this with perhaps a call to Congressman Collins, to commend his leadership in the U.S. House as well as his solid defense of this President, followed by sharing that he would not be considering Collins for the Senate seat, primarily because his seniority and leadership are still needed in the U.S. House, and this pick would be aimed at broadening Georgia's traditional GOP voting base, I think we might be now looking at a very different winter weather and political forecast.
I’ve tried within my own family, with limited success, to end feuds or long-festering fights, by starting with a straight-forward and sincere apology. Take ownership of your part in the wrong, and try to get the ship of state righted again...the wake coming off of this fight could otherwise capsize a lot of other boats unintentionally.