Conservatives across the Georgia Republican base have sounded the alarm over Gov. Brian Kemp’s potential appointment of Kelly Loeffler as an interim Republican senator. Georgia conservative activist Debbie Dooley called her a “country club Republican” in an interview with Breitbart News.
As Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is set to retire shortly, Gov. Kemp has two potential options to nominate as an interim Georgia Republican senator: Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and financial executive Kelly Loeffler.
Collins is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and has served as a staunch supporter of President Trump during the impeachment inquiry and of the president’s agenda.
Loeffler is the CEO of Bakkt, a bitcoin trading and a storage platform that is owned by the Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).
President Donald Trump has reportedly pressured Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint Doug Collins as the interim senator. White House senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner also support Collins’ temporary appointment to the U.S. Senate. Even though the White House strongly supports Collins’ appointment, a Georgia-based political strategist said Collins is not one of the governor’s top choices for the seat.
Debbie Dooley, a Tea Party movement co-founder and a Georgia conservative activist, told Breitbart News in an interview Friday that Collins will both defend Trump during the impeachment proceedings as well as advance Trump’s America First agenda.
Dooley said, “Doug Collins is the perfect candidate for the job. He is a conservative, with a strong conservative voting record, he has nation-wide name recognition, he is one of Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters, he’s articulate, he can raise a ton of money…he is the logical choice.”
Other conservatives have called for Kemp to back Collins for the Senate seat.
Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s son, hosted a fundraiser for Collins in late October and said in November that Collins “is a fighter and exactly the kind of person Republicans should want in the senate. We need someone who gets it, not someone who will have to learn on the job.”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 20, 2019
— Johnny (Joey) Jones (@Johnny_Joey) November 22, 2019
American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman Matt Schlapp wrote a letter to Kemp in October, urging him to pick the Georgia conservative congressman for the seat. He said that Collins has been a “strong advocate” in Congress and has stood up against the “phony [impeachment] attacks leveled at a duly elected President.”
Dooley said in contrast to Collins, Loeffler is a “country club Republican” with concerning ties to Planned Parenthood, Stacey Abrams, and has donated to Republicans such as Sen. Mitt Romney and former Speaker Paul Ryan, who have been sharply critical of Trump.
She added that “conservatives overwhelmingly would much rather have Doug Collins than a Romney-RINO Republican” such as Loeffler.
Dooley said that Loeffler has a history of donating to establishment Republicans such as Mitt Romney, while she has only very recently donated to Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Dooley said Loeffler “gave $750,000 to Mitt Romney in 2012; she gave zero to Donald Trump in 2016. A few weeks ago, she gave $100,000 in contributions to Donald Trump, but that was only because her political consultants said, ‘you need to do this.’”
Loeffler donated $750,000 during the 2012 presidential election to Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. The financial executive has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to former Speaker Ryan’s political campaigns and PACs. Now, when the question of her potential Senate appointment has come to media attention, Loeffler donated $100,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that is raising funds for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Dooley said that she has reservations about Loeffler’s ties to Planned Parenthood as well as to Democrat icon Stacey Abrams.
Loeffler is the co-owner and co-chairman of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Atlanta Dream.
After the Trump administration announced plans in 2018 to cut family planning funding from abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood, WNBA President Lisa Borders said that she and the league “stands with Planned Parenthood.”
— Lisa Borders (@Lisa_M_Borders) May 18, 2018
Borders’ statement follows shortly after the WNBA announced its “Take a Seat, Take a Stand” program, which provides donations to one of six organizations, including Planned Parenthood, for every WNBA ticket purchased.
Loeffler’s team also promoted the program, which favors donations to the abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
The potential Senate Republican nominee also has strong ties to former Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
In August, Abrams joined the WNBA players’ union.
I am honored to join @TheWNBPA Board of Advocates to support the phenomenal athletes who make up the longest running union in women’s professional sports. @AtlantaDream and all @WNBA players are heroes on and off the court. Ἴ #BiggerThanBasketball #DreamOn #BetOnWomen #gapol https://t.co/Oy11oRbtbd
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 29, 2019
Abrams also played a role in bringing the Atlanta Dream back to the city in 2008, with help from WNBA President Borders. Abrams’ consulting firm, Sage Works, has worked with the Atlanta Dream.
Further, Loeffler’s team, the Atlanta Dream, named Abrams as an “aspiring woman” in 2014.
“Stacey Abrams is an integral part of” Loeffler’s basketball “team,” Dooley contended.
Loeffler’s Atlanta Dream has also pushed back on some socially conservative policies in Georgia.
In 2016, The Atlanta Dream was one of more than 100 businesses and universities that opposed state Sen. Josh McKoon’s (R-GA) Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would protect companies’ and Americans’ religious freedom.
As Gov. Kemp continues to consider whether to appoint a more establishment-minded Republican such as Loeffler or a more conservative option like Collins, Dooley has charged that picking Loeffler would “alienate” Georgia’s conservative base.
Further, Dooley said that picking Loeffler would be “turning his back on the base that helped get him elected” if he chose Loeffler.
Dooley said this nomination serves as another instance for the “soul” of the Georgia Republican Party, where the state party could move towards Trump’s America First vision or slide back towards the Romney-style conservatism that lost the 2012 presidential election to former President Barack Obama.
“This is a fight for the heart and soul of the Georgia Republican Party,” Dooley said. “Are we going to defend President Trump, his agenda, represent the state well, or are we going to be a party of Mitt Romney Republicans?”