When Kelly Loeffler is sworn in as the next Republican US senator next Monday, her party’s kingmakers hope it will help salvage support among suburban white women—a once-solid GOP constituency that has increasingly turned against the party during the Trump era.
GOP leaders fear that the party could lose one—or even both—US Senate seats in Georgia when the nation votes later this year after a blistering 2018 election in Georgia where the party struggled to hold onto power as suburban women revolted. Those worries helped the State’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, in his decision to appoint Loeffler after his party’s incumbent US senator, Johnny Isakson, decided to resign last year due to health issues.
“Georgia is more competitive than Ohio was in 2016,” University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock III told the Christian Science Monitor last month, adding that suburban women “are a group that is in play, and you have to look pretty long and hard to find women in leadership positions in the Republican Party, in elected statewide offices.”
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Loeffler as a “terrific appointment.”
Loeffler to ‘Strongly Vote No’ on Impeachment
Though Donald Trump and some in his circle at the White House reportedly opposed Kemp’s choice of Loeffler, she is already promising to join the other members of her party in Washington who have decided to protect their national leader during his expected impeachment trial regardless of the evidence presented.
“I can tell you with certainty my first vote is an easy one. This impeachment sham is an attack on what was a free and fair election, and I will stand strongly against impeachment and vote no,” Loeffler told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month—a comment which ignores thousands of pages of documents and more than 100 hours of witness testimony that corroborate allegations that Trump did, in fact, use military aid as leverage over Ukraine in his quest to get them to help him with his 2020 election.
As senator, Loeffler would have to swear the following oath before serving as a juror during Trump’s impeachment trial: “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”
Incoming Senator Vows to Spend $20 Million of Own Fortune to Defend Seat
Loeffler is the outgoing CEO of financial services company Bakkt and the co-owner of Atlanta Dream, a WNBA professional basketball franchise.
Republicans hope Loeffler will be able to self-fund. Between 2013 and 2019, she and her husband, Jeffrey Spreacher, donated more than $1 million to Republican campaign committees. Spreacher is the founder and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, where he owns $328 million worth of stock and makes $14.5 million a year.
From 2013 to 2019, Loeffler donated over $560,000 to Republican campaign committees while her husband has also contributed more than $500,000. Loeffler has also paid a huge amount of money including a $100,000 gift to participate in Trump’s Nov. 8 roundtable in Atlanta.
Loeffler has vowed to spend $20 million of her own money to help keep the seat.
“As she tries to buy herself a Senate seat, Kelly Loeffler has shown she’d rather stand with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on a cover-up of the president’s abuse of power than support a fair and open hearing of evidence in the Senate,” Alex Floyd, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a press release on December 16.
“Georgia voters deserve a senator who will put the rule of law first, not Washington partisan politics.”
In Georgia’s other U.S. Senate race this year, several Democrats are running for the nomination to unseat Republican incumbent David Perdue, including: former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson; Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry; and 2017 congressional candidate Jon Ossoff, a filmmaker.
An earlier version of this story referred to “Republican incumbent Sonny Perdue” as a current US senator. That was incorrect; the incumbent Republican senator for that seat is David Perdue, who is the cousin of former Georgia governor and current US secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue.