While we have all been watching the Democrat Establishment attack Bernie Sanders over the past couple of months, it should be noted that the Republican Party has long had an “Establishment problem,” too. The conflict between the Republican Establishment and Trumpian rank-and-file populists has resurface in Georgia. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) was hoping – if not expecting – to be appointed to fill the seat of retired Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). RINO Governor Brian Kemp instead appointed Kelly Loeffler, as noted in this article at the time:
Defying President Donald Trump, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp … tapped financial services executive Kelly Loeffler to fill the state’s soon-to-be vacated Senate seat.
According to reports, Trump had pressed Kemp to appoint Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, a staunch ally, to fill the seat of GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Here is how Erick Erickson sees the race unfolding:
To [win], [Collins] is being aided by Democrats in the Georgia House and a Collins political ally, the scandal-plagued Speaker of the House, David Ralston. With friends like these, perhaps Collins should think again.
The strategy is to get the rules of the election changed, even though the process has begun. In special elections in Georgia, all the candidates are on a so-called “jungle primary.” Democrats and Republicans together pile into the race and the top two vote-getters battle it out in a runoff unless one gets over 50 percent.
Kemp chose Loeffler as a self-made businesswoman who could appeal to suburban demographics and expand the GOP base. The considerations on Collins were that he could hold the GOP base, but not expand it as Georgia continues to drift demographically, and that his lack of deep pockets to self-fund would deprive other races of needed money.
[The race] will divide conservatives in the state at the very moment they need unity. It will consume resources that are better spent on helping Perdue and helping the state GOP hold the General Assembly. It will consume resources better spent in other states.
It is not quite so simple, as Loeffler is a political neophyte, and Kemp is a Republican Establishment figure who is lukewarm at best to the President. Plus, there is that little tidbit about Kemp defying the wishes of President Trump to begin with.
Lou Dobbs interviewed former Reagan campaign consultant and adviser Ed Rollins (now Great America PAC’s top strategist) and NY Post columnist Michael Goodwin on his Monday night program to discuss the Loeffler-Collins primary race.
Dobbs: What are the Republicans doing to themselves … Republicans coming out and attacking Doug Collins because he chose to defy the Republican Establishment [and challenge appointed US Senator Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia primary]. [From a National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) announcement by Nathan Brand:] “Since announcing his Senate candidacy, DC Doug Collins’ own polling shows that his campaign has been in a free fall. Collins is on a self-serving, spite-fueled, political kamikaze mission that threatens to take down President Trump, the Republican majority in the United States Senate, two Senate seats and multiple House seats. Over the next eight months, Georgians will get to know the real Doug Collins, whose past actions tell a much different story than his recent words.”
Me: This is extremist political hyperbole if there ever was any! The notion that a single US senate primary race in Georgia is going to somehow threaten the reelection of the President, the Republican majority in the Senate and a number of House seats is patently absurd. Whoever wins the Georgia primary nomination is going to win in the general election, and quite frankly Collins’ bonafides regarding support for President Trump were on full display during the Democrats’ impeachment farce in the House last fall. Georgia voters will remember his enthusiastic defense of the President quite well during the November election.
Rollins: Mitch McConnell has controlled that committee for many years. I follow it closely. They say nasty things about anybody who [goes after] McConnell people. We’ve praised McConnell on this show and said many good things about him. Basically, he’s got his own team, his own people and goes for his own candidates.
Me: Spot on, Ed. How soon we forget that McConnell’s NRSC refused to support Roy Moore against Doug Jones in the Alabama special election for US senator in 2017. Moore lost be a mere 1.5 percentage point in a state in which no Democrat had been elected to the US Senate since 1992. I guess Mitch wasn’t concerned about a Democrat pickup in a narrowly-divided US Senate. So much for the NRSC’s concerns expressed in their above statement.
Goodwin: And the person picked in that seat now has been a big contributor to Republican causes, and I’m thinking Mitch McConnell likes the idea of having a woman – and a rich one at that – whose family can make a lot of contributions to the Committee.
Me: That’s what it gets down to for Mitch: another likely source of contributions to the NRSC, as well as another reliable acolyte in the Republican caucus in the Senate.
Dobbs: And who wins this fight?
Rollins: I would bet on Collins.
Goodwin: Yeah, he’s a scrappy guy.
Dobbs: And it is a state contest after all and not one that will be decided by the NRSC.
The expressed consensus is that Doug Collins will beat Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia primary. It would be highly unlikely that Georgia voters would vote against Collins and elect a Democrat in November. This race needs to be watched closely. The Georgia primary is on 19 May.