Silly Season Comes to Georgia
A special election for the United States Senate pits two candidates with identical views against each other.
I confess to being aggravated by the Kelly Loeffler and Doug Collins race. It is a race that should not be. While I very much like and respect Doug Collins, I trust Governor Kemp who appointed Loeffler to the Senate. The race is dividing the Republican Party at a time it needs to be united.
It is actually a blessing in disguise that the idea of a primary got scuttled. Republicans in Georgia have a history of not voting in races where their preferred candidate lost. Undoubtedly, a number of Cagle supporters in 2018 refused to vote for Kemp, causing the Kemp and Abrams race to be closer than it should have been. If Collins and Loeffler had a primary, some supporters would skip that race in November.
Now, at least, there will be a full Republican turnout in November for the President, David Perdue, and in the Loeffler and Collins race. If we must do this, however, please stop making it about Stacey Abrams.
Two weeks ago, people close to Collins pushed out the picture of Senator Loeffler with Stacey Abrams at a WNBA event in Atlanta. The implication is that Senator Loeffler and Abrams are close. That led the Loeffler team to push out pictures of Collins hugging Abrams. Then outside groups weighed in with a recent video of Collins talking about his friendship with Abrams. In fact, the two are so close that Abrams named a character in one of her romance novels “Doug Collins.”
Does it really matter? I like Stacey Abrams too. I, like Collins, disagree with her on pretty much everything politically. But I interviewed Abrams for an hour during the 2018 race and she was one of the best interviews I have conducted. She offered comprehensive answers, was self-deprecating, and had a great sense of humor. One can disagree with Abrams politically while also recognizing she is a fine person.
The reason this race has devolved into a silly contest over who hugged Abrams the hardest is because Senator Loeffler and Congressman Collins agree on virtually every issue. They agree on life issues, second amendment issues, tax issues, regulatory issues, military issues, impeachment, the President, and any other issue one might toss at them.
The underlying presumption is that Loeffler is only pretending to be a conservative. This calls into question both Governor Kemp’s judgment and Loeffler’s integrity. Despite Loeffler’s strongly conservative record since joining the Senate, those around Collins would suggest she will “grow” in office once unencumbered by an election. Of course, whoever wins in 2020 will be back on the ballot in just two years.
This also ignores that Collins too has had issues in office. Collins has an 81% lifetime rating on the Heritage Action for America scorecard, having only a 75% in the 2017-2018 period. In the present congress, Collins has an 88%, but trails all the other Republicans from Georgia except Rob Woodall from the metro Atlanta area. Among other issues, the Heritage Foundation says Collins has been bad on immigration and supported an amnesty proposal.
I actually was fine with the Collins vote. I only bring it up to note if we are going with the “Loeffler may be bad eventually” or hugged Abrams scenarios, Collins will see the same leveraged against him. That makes this race so frustrating — two good candidates with identical views on the issues claiming we cannot trust the other. Ultimately, I do trust Brian Kemp and his judgment so I will go with Loeffler, knowing Collins would be just as good.