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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

And Loeffler's been targeted by conservative activists who have scrutinized her degree of support for Trump, questioned her past campaign contributions to Democrats and tried to depict her as a closet liberal.

Among the latest is Mark Levin, the radio host and ally of Trump who called Kemp "another Romney" on Twitter. "He's about to appoint a RINO to the Senate. His surrogates are trashing conservative critics like Gaetz," Levin wrote.

The out-of-state umbrage might be just fine for Kemp and his aides. They'd much rather mock non-Georgians -- see last week's conflagration with Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida -- than knock the in-state activists who are critical of his decision.

It's a convenient way to shift the narrative away from one that frames Kemp as someone willing to ignore Trump's personal pleas, and toward a view that casts the governor as defiantly standing against what is now the party's establishment.

Meanwhile, Kemp's supporters have started to give him some cover for his presumptive pick of Loeffler.

Former state lawmaker Buzz Brockway and Cole Muzio of the Family Policy Alliance of Georgia have been outspoken in their pleas for faith in Kemp's decisions.

And Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, who applied for the seat, praised the governor's tactical decision in planning to pick a woman and business executive.


"Kelly, or any outstanding conservative woman, helps Republicans win back suburban women who seem to have left our party in the last cycle," he said. "The governor knows what he's doing."

Still, wary state Republicans are nervous about a lasting rift. The board of the Georgia Young Republicans also voted unanimously to back Kemp in whoever he picks, nodding to the acrimony already dividing some Georgia conservatives.

"Unity sometimes means swallowing pride and ambition and doing what is best for the party," said Andrew Abbott, a spokesman for the group.

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