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Kelly Loeffler to have powerful ally after she's tapped to fill Georgia Senate seat

Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA -- When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announces Wednesday that he's picked financial executive Kelly Loeffler for an open U.S. Senate seat, she'll have some powerful backup to help defend her new post.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will support Loeffler, giving her a key political ally as she faces a potential GOP challenge, according to two people with direct knowledge of the decision.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported last week that Kemp will appoint Loeffler to the seat despite President Donald Trump's endorsement of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term congressman who is one of his top advocates in the U.S. House.

Kemp is set to announce Loeffler's pick Wednesday morning. He's putting the final touches on the rollout for the political newcomer, a financial executive who can self-fund her campaign but has drawn the scorn of some conservative critics.

At a recent breakfast with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is vacating the seat at year's end because of health issues, the three-term incumbent also repeated his pledge to Kemp to support whoever the governor picks for the seat.

And Kemp resumed calling state elected officials to personally inform them of the pick. The announcement was set for Wednesday so it didn't interfere with Isakson's farewell speech, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. Senate.

 

Loeffler, meanwhile, started introducing herself to her soon-to-be colleagues. She spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by phone in what a senior Republican official described as a positive conversation.

She was told she'd be treated as an incumbent with the full support of the NRSC, the political arm of the Senate GOP whose support could help her defend against a possible primary challenge, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the private conversation.

Loeffler, a first-time candidate who would be the second female U.S. senator in state history, might need the support.

Collins told the Journal-Constitution two weeks ago that he's "strongly" considering a run for the seat if he's not appointed. Trump has directly pressed Kemp to appoint Collins at least three times.

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