Clearly hoping to dissuade Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) from challenging her in the Republican primary, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) has launched a $2.6 million introductory media ad wave to help define herself with Republican primary voters. One of the ads ends with the lines: “China is attacking American jobs. Iran is attacking American troops. And Congress only attacks the president. It has to stop.”
In a new statewide race that is developing slowly, former US Attorney Ed Tarver (D) is making it clear that he will soon be declaring his candidacy for the Georgia special US Senate election. Republicans will have appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler running for her party’s nomination now that Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has chosen her to replace resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson (R). This race is expected to be close, contentious, and could feature a hot Republican primary. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) reiterated last week that he has not ruled out challenging Sen. Loeffler for the party nomination. The Georgia primary is May 19th, and the candidate filing deadline is scheduled for March 6th.
Mason-Dixon Research & Strategy polled the Georgia electorate (12/19-23; 625 GA registered voters) to test attitudes and reactions to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointing businesswoman Kelly Loeffler (R) as the replacement for resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson (R). Statewide, the Loeffler appointment is viewed favorably by a 35-29% margin, but her number among Republican voters is certainly less than what she and the Governor had hoped.
Within the GOP segment, only 55% approve of the appointment. The fact that the appointment is viewed positively in the Atlanta metro area by a 37-30% count is good news for the Republican leadership, and at least begins to achieve one of the stated goals for Ms. Loeffler appointment; that is, improving Republican standing within the major cities. In the more conservative geographic sectors, the response to Loeffler is more tepid. The positive ratio was only 31-28% positive to negative in Central Georgia, and 32-29% in South Georgia. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) reiterated this week that he has not ruled out challenging Sen. Loeffler in the May 19th Republican primary.
Conservative businesswoman Marjorie Greene, who is an announced candidate in the 6th Congressional District that freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) holds, is now switching to the open northwest Georgia 14th District from which Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger/Rome) is retiring. The 14th will feature a determinative Republican primary with a run-off battle to assuredly follow.
The Atlanta suburban 6th District now finds former Rep. Karen Handel unopposed for the Republican nomination, meaning we will likely see a re-match between Rep. McBath and Ms. Handel. In 2018, Ms. McBath unseated then-Rep. Handel, 50.5 – 49.5%, a margin of 3,264 votes from over 317,000 cast ballots.
Things could still change, however. The Georgia candidate filing deadline is March 6th for the May 19th state primary. If no candidate receives 50% in the first partisan vote, the top two finishers advance to a run-off election on July 21st. Regardless of the general election participants, the 6th District will be a top national political target.
Former Congressman Jack Kingston, who lost a close 2014 US Senate Republican primary to current Sen. David Perdue, had been among those who applied for the US Senate appointment. Before Gov. Brian Kemp (R) chose businesswoman Kelly Loeffler (R) to replace the resigning Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), Mr. Kingston indicated that he may run for the seat if he were not appointed. Yesterday, however, Mr. Kingston took himself out of the Senate jungle special election primary by endorsing Ms. Loeffler. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), however, is still a potential GOP candidate against the new Senator-designate.
Another surprise retirement announcement came from northwest Georgia yesterday as six-term Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger/Rome) announced via social media that he will not seek re-election next year. With a 76% victory percentage in 2018 coming from one of the strongest Trump districts in the nation (Trump ’16: 75-22%), Rep. Graves was in strong political position but has decided he wants to return to family matters instead of continuing his political career.
We can expect a multi-candidate Republican primary that will lead to a run-off in order to determine the Republican party nominee. The Georgia primary is May 19th with a July 21st run-off date. The Georgia candidate filing deadline is March 6th, so potential candidates have time to prepare for what should be a tough open seat GOP nomination campaign.
It appears that Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will officially announce his selection of Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler as his choice to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) who will resign his seat at year’s end due to health problems.
Ms. Loeffler, whose husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is the founder and CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange and chairs the New York Stock Exchange, has never run for public office. She will serve the remainder of Sen. Isakson’s term, which takes her through 2020. It is presumed that Ms. Loeffler will be a candidate in the special election where she may well face Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and several others. Mr. Collins, who President Trump supported for the appointment, was leaving broad hints that he would run for the seat if Gov. Kemp did not appoint him.
A new Democratic Senate special election candidate came forward over the weekend to join businessman Matt Lieberman (D), the son of former Vice-Presidential nominee and Connecticut US Senator Joe Lieberman.
Maya Dillard Smith, the former executive director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, announced that she will become a Senatorial candidate. Most of the potential candidates are waiting to see who Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appoints to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R). The veteran lawmaker will resign the seat at the end of the month due to health reasons. Signals are strong, however, that Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will enter the special election fray. Once a leading prospect for the appointment, it now appears that Gov. Kemp is moving away from his direction.
It is appearing more likely that, should Gov. Brian Kemp (R) bypass Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) for the impending US Senate appointment to replace resigning Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), the Congressman will enter the special election to oppose whomever is chosen. Gov. Kemp allowed individuals to apply for the position, and more than 500 people responded. Despite public urging from President Trump for Gov. Kemp to appoint Mr. Collins, the latest signs indicate that the Governor is reportedly looking in another direction.
Yesterday, Rep. Collins issued a statement saying that so many people throughout the state are asking him to run, that he must “strongly” consider declaring his Senate candidacy. Accounting for his fundraising ability, strength within the Republican base, and the President lobbying for him to be appointed – and Mr. Trump’s endorsement in a GOP primary makes victory almost a lock – there is a good chance that Rep. Collins would be a stronger statewide candidate than an interim Senator who has never run a major campaign. We can expect the appointment announcement to come relatively soon, and before Sen. Isakson leaves office at the end of December.
More than 500 people met Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) deadline to file an appointment application to replace resigning Sen. Johnny Isakson (R). The more notable names included US Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), state House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), former Health & Human Services Secretary and ex-Congressman Tom Price, ex-US Congressmen Jack Kingston and Paul Broun, and author Jackie Gingrich Cushman, daughter of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
It is unclear when Gov. Kemp will make his decision, but it is presumed he will act before Sen. Isakson leaves office on December 31st.
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