— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) December 2, 2019
Brian Kemp prevailed in last year’s hotly-contested Georgia gubernatorial election thanks to his convincing portrayal as a fervent Trump supporter.
As soon as Kemp received a late endorsement from President Trump, he cruised to victory in his primary runoff and then edged out Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in the general election.
Yet Kemp’s status as a Trumpian firebrand may be in jeopardy after news broke this afternoon that the governor is set to appoint financial services executive and political neophyte Kelly Loeffler.
Loeffler donated some $750,000 to Romney-supporting PACs in the 2012 election; she declined to give Donald Trump’s presidential campaign any money four years later.
An official briefed on the decision expects Kemp to announce his decision after Senator Johnny Isakson’s farewell address later this week. The official spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity before the authorized announcement comes from the governor’s office.
Isakson announced his decision to resign back in August, citing health reasons four years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Kemp’s decision to appoint Loeffler comes in defiance to prominent Republicans from the president on down, who lobbied aggressively for House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins to be chosen.
The Associated Press further reports:
Loeffler, co-owner of the Atlanta Dream professional woman’s basketball franchise, will have to defend the seat next November as Republicans battle to maintain control of the Senate and the White House.
By picking Loeffler, Kemp might have set up a bitter GOP clash over the seat, as Collins has publicly left open the door to running against her next year.
Loeffler is the CEO of financial services firm Bakkt, which offers a regulated market for Bitcoin. She was previously an executive at Intercontinental Exchange, a behemoth founded by her husband that owns the New York Stock Exchange. Bakkt is a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange.
The Senate seat will be up for grabs again in November 2020 in an open-to-all special election for the final two years of Isakson’s term. Also on the ballot will be Republican Sen. David Perdue, another vocal Trump defender. With both of Georgia’s GOP-held Senate seats on the ballot alongside Trump in 2020, the race is raising the state’s profile as a political battleground where Republicans still dominate but Democrats have made substantial inroads in recent elections.
If Loeffler prevails in the general election next year, she will be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate in Georgia.