By Matthew Osborne
Gov. Brian Kemp went against President Trump’s recommendation Wednesday when he selected businesswoman Kelly Loeffler over U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) to fill the U.S. Senate seat left by the retiring Johnny Isakson.
Loeffler will represent the state of Georgia until a special election in November 2020 to determine the final two years of Isakson’s third term, of which he only served half.
Collins – who represents Georgia’s 9th District, including Habersham County – is a strong ally of Trump’s and serves as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. He has gained notoriety for his impassioned defense of Trump throughout the impeachment inquiry.
“The governor has the right to make this appointment, and I respect the decision he has made,” Collins said Wednesday. “I congratulate Kelly Loeffler on her appointment to serve our great state as Georgia’s next senator.
“I appreciate the support I have received from the president and many others, and right now, my primary focus is defending our president against partisan impeachment attacks.”
Loeffler is the CEO of Bakkt, a company focused on bitcoin, and part owner of the WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream. She will be the first Republican woman to serve in the U.S. Senate from Georgia. The first woman to serve in the Senate from Georgia was Rebecca Latimer Felton, a Democrat who served for one day in 1922 at the age of 87.
Isakson congratulated Loeffler on her appointment.
“Kelly’s business experience and acumen will be an asset to Georgia and the Senate. The same tireless work ethic that has helped her succeed in business will also help her succeed in serving Georgians and our nation,” Isakson said. “It has been the honor of a lifetime for me to serve this great state in the U.S. Senate, and my staff and I will work closely with Kelly to ensure a smooth transition.”
Kemp had high praise for his selection Wednesday morning.
"From the farm to the New York Stock Exchange, Kelly Loeffler has lived the American Dream. I'm confident that she will work every single day to keep that same dream alive for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come,” Kemp said. “Kelly Loeffler will stand with the President, Senator Perdue, and their allies in the U.S. House and Senate.
“I’m excited to appoint Georgia's first female Senator in nearly 100 years – but, more importantly, I'm excited to appoint a life-long Republican who shares our conservative values and vision for a safer, stronger Georgia.”
Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long said he hoped to bring Loeffler up to speed on state agricultural issues.
“Our organization looks forward to working with Sen. Loeffler to ensure the concerns of Georgia’s farmers are taken into account as she considers federal policy. We will be glad to serve as a resource on agricultural topics for her regarding how proposed legislation may affect Georgia farmers,” Long said.