According to a report from Politico, the primary battle for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) is getting uglier as GOP lawmakers choose sides between the embattled senator and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) who is a favorite of Donald Trump.
At one time Loeffler’s path to holding onto to the seat — after being appointed by Gov. Brain Kemp (R) — seemed clear until she was accused of insider trading based upon the information presented in closed-door hearings on the coronavirus pandemic.
Those charges, and a subsequent investigation, have scrambled the race with Loeffler saying she won’t step aside which would calm the waters and pave the way for Collins.
“Not only am I not dropping out, but I’m gonna win,” Loeffler said in an interview. “And no one’s going to intimidate me into thinking that that’s the right course for our party, for our state, for our country. I’m working hard to help reelect the president. I’m working hard to win my seat and keep the Senate in Republican hands.”
As Politico notes, “She’s facing attacks from the left and right for selling millions of dollars in stocks after receiving a private briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. What’s more, she’s fighting off a serious challenge from Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) — a strong ally of President Donald Trump — who is ahead in most recent public polling.”
Loeffler, who has blamed the accusations on “the liberal media attacking someone who supports free enterprise,” does not have the full confidence of Republican colleagues in the Senate with Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) admitting, “She’s going to have to answer it. And I mean she’s been trying to. It’s an issue, there’s no question.”
On the other side, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SC) backed her by telling reporters, “We think she’s a very strong candidate.”
In the middle is Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who is up for re-election in up in November and wants to focus on his own race and stay out of Loeffler’s problems.
“Perdue declined to comment on the status of the Loeffler-Collins race and didn’t indicate whether he’d campaign with Loeffler, citing a campaigning hiatus because of coronavirus,” Politico reports, quoting Perdue repeating, “I’m not commenting on that race.”
That hasn’t stopped Loeffler and Collins from taking shots at each other.
“I knew I’d be attacked for my success, and I knew it would come from the left. What’s been surprising is it’s come from the right, as well. And I think that’s shameful,” she told reporters.
“Loeffler has indicated she’s ready to go on the offensive, describing Collins in the interview as a ‘do-nothing, career politician who has tax and spend as a strategy.’ Collins retorted: ‘It’s amazing she can read a cue card from her consultants,'” Politico reports.
Collins added, “Instead of working for the people of Georgia for the past five months in D.C., she seems to have been working for herself. Because all she’s been able to do is have to explain her stock scandal and left her doing nothing else more than that.”
“Privately, some Republican senators and aides have more dour assessments. They understand the NRSC needs to back incumbents to guard against primary challenges, which have dogged Republicans in the past, but several said she’s in a dangerous situation and might need to drop out of the race. No sitting GOP senator has publicly said, however, that she should quit,” the Politico report added.
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