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December 5, 2019

The Strategy Behind the Georgia Senate Pick

Trump gave Gov. Kemp political room to pick Kelly Loeffler instead of Doug Collins.

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed multimillionaire businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring to cope with his declining health. Normally, this sort of story would be worth a headline and a shrug, but this time, it involves the president and some infighting among conservatives.

President Donald Trump met with Gov. Kemp to advocate for his own choice for Isakson’s Senate seat — Rep. Doug Collins. The widely reported narrative is that Kemp “bucked” Trump by picking Loeffler instead. For our part, we suspect there was a good cop/bad cop wink and nod here. In other words, Trump gave Kemp some needed political space.

Collins is a staunch conservative who represents the Ninth District, one of Georgia’s most conservative districts; no one questions his credentials. In fact, he’s currently the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, where his task is to defend Trump against the Democrats’ absurd impeachment inquisition. Collins is needed where he is, but, in part due to his vigorous Trump defense, he’s also arguably less well-suited for a statewide Senate contest next year. The state isn’t as “red” as it used to be, primarily because of women in the Atlanta suburbs. Not only does the Senate pick have to win in 2020, but Kemp has to prove he’s not just “doing Trump’s bidding.”

We believe Kemp (and Trump) had this in mind when picking Loeffler. She is a complete unknown to grassroots Republicans, and many wonder if we’re getting a senatorial version John Roberts — acceptable on the surface but an unreliable “moderate” underneath. After all, Loeffler served on the board of Grady Memorial Hospital, the largest provider of abortions in Georgia. She’s also CEO of Bakkt, a bitcoin-focused company, and part owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. The WNBA donates to Planned Parenthood and other feminist groups, and Loeffler’s involvement in the WNBA means she’s benefited from the cronyism that funds sports stadiums across the country.

But Kemp’s no dummy, and he’s most certainly not trying to win the approval of the Planned Parenthood Left. In fact, he’s doing his best to keep conservative support. He signed one of the most pro-life laws in the country last year despite the threats of Hollywood, which is heavily invested in the Peach State. Kemp’s stand is all the more remarkable after the previous Republican governor caved to the Rainbow Mafia and vetoed a religious-liberty bill after having promised to sign it.

Kemp stood firm against critics of his yet-to-be-announced Senate pick, too. “I stand with hardworking Georgians and @POTUS,” Kemp tweeted last month. “The idea that I would appoint someone to the U.S. Senate that is NOT pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-freedom, and 100% supportive of our President (and his plan to Keep America Great) is ridiculous.”

Our own Louis DeBroux notes, “The governor has also made some very shrewd appointments in recent months, tapping John King (law-enforcement background) to serve as interim Insurance Commissioner, becoming the first Hispanic constitutional officer in Georgia history. He also appointed the first black woman to serve as Cobb County DA, a county that used to be deep red but that Hillary won in 2016. Through June, about half of the appointments he’d made were women, and almost a quarter were black. Georgia is becoming less white every year, and while we reject the ‘demography is destiny’ mantra of the Democrats, we’d argue that if the GOP doesn’t show that minorities and women are welcomed in the party, not only as voters but as leaders, then Democrats will continue to effectively hammer them as the party of old white men.”

Meanwhile, for all the caterwauling about Kemp “bowing to the Swamp” with his pick, it’s interesting to note that he choose the self-made millionaire who isn’t beholden to any political base and who isn’t currently employed in the Beltway. As Loeffler put it, “I am not a career politician or even someone who’s run for office. Over the last 25 years, I’ve been building businesses, taking risks, and creating jobs. I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington.”

As for her conservative bona fides, she says, “But here’s what folks are gonna find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump. And I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges. I am strongly pro-life. The abortion-on-demand agenda is immoral. In the Senate, I look forward to voting for S. 160, Senator Lindsey Graham’s 20-week abortion ban. When it comes to protecting innocent life, I look to God because every life is a blessing. In Washington, I will work with President Trump to continue the incredible economic progress our nation has seen.”

Obviously, Loeffler’s actual track record has yet to be established and there are indeed questions — if not outright flags — about what we do know, but she checked a lot of the right boxes with her remarks. “As an outsider to Washington, I know I will have to prove it,” she admitted. “To earn your confidence and support, with my votes, my priorities, and my actions. And that’s exactly what I’ll do.” As long as that’s the case, the controversy surrounding her pick will soon be a distant memory.

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