Politics

Doug Collins Won’t Rule Out Primary Bid Against Governor’s Choice For Senate

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • Georgia GOP Rep. Doug Collins, during a Sunday interview on Fox News, would not definitively rule out a challenge against whomever his governor chooses to fill a soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. 
  • President Donald Trump and grassroots conservatives pressured the Georgia governor to pick Collins, a strong defender of the president, but the governor is expected to tap business executive Kelly Loeffler. 
  • Collins said he will “have a decision to make” after the governor announces his pick to fill the Senate seat, which will be vacated at the end of the year by the ailing GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Georgia GOP Rep. Doug Collins did not rule out a primary challenge to whomever is appointed to his state’s open Senate seat during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

The governor of Georgia is expected to name Georgia GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson’s successor sometime this week after Isakson announced in August he would step down from his position due to ailing health. The governor appears poised to appoint business executive Kelly Loeffler, despite a lobbying effort by grassroots conservatives and the White House to pick Collins.

Collins said his focus right now is fighting House Democratic efforts to impeach the president; however, he did not rule out running for Senate in 2020.

“The governor still has that appointment to be made. I appreciate the support I’ve received from the president and many others, but right now as you can see in this interview this morning, I have a big job to do in the next three weeks, and that’s impeachment,” Collins told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 21: Ranking member of U.S. House Judiciary Committee Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) (R) speaks as committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) (L) listens during a hearing in which former White House Counsel Don McGahn was subpoenaed to testify May 21, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump has directed McGahn not to comply with the subpoena, claiming the former counsel is immune from congressional testimony. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ranking member of U.S. House Judiciary Committee Rep. Doug Collins (R) speaks as committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (L) listens during a hearing in which former White House counsel Don McGahn was subpoenaed to testify May 21, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“We’ll see where the governor goes with this pick and then we’ll have a decision to make after that, but right now my full focus and attention is on impeachment, and also what is best for Georgia,” the congressman continued. “Those will be the things that play into my mind, but right, first and foremost, is defending against this foe shame impeachment that we’re going to get started on Wednesday with.”

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Wallace noted how Collins said that a “decision” would have to be made after the appointment and asked Collins to expand on that and if it meant he would mount a primary challenge himself.

“Chris, let’s see what the governor does first. I think he’s heard from a lot of folks, but if he does, then that’ll be a decision we have to make at that point,” the congressman said.

The interview marked the latest development in Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp’s quest to find a qualified candidate who can fill Isakson’s seat and successfully defend it when up for election in November 2020.

Isakson, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, announced in late August that his health problems were preventing him from doing his job and he would step down at the end of the year. That announcement prompted Kemp to accept applications from anyone willing and qualified to fill the position.

The White House adamantly pressured Kemp to choose Collins, a steadfast conservative and defender of the president. However, the governor appears all but certain to announce Loeffler — a Georgia financial executive who co-owns Georgia’s WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream — as his pick to fill Isakson’s seat.

Kemp believes Loeffler will help regain female voters, a demographic that has drifted away from the Georgia GOP in recent time. However, more hardline conservatives say Loeffler’s lack of political experience, past donations to Democrats, and her work with Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation is a concern. (RELATED: Georgia Governor Brushes Off Pro-Life Warnings Against His Potential Senate Pick As ‘Ridiculous’)

The fight over who should be appointed to the seat reached a favor pitch when Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Collins ally, publicly tweeted Friday that Kemp should be primaried if he does not pick Collins. The tweet prompted a Kemp spokesman to ask Gaetz if he preferred “flat front jorts, pleated jorts, or cargo jorts with room to put all of your Legos, Pokémon cards, and jellybeans.”

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