Georgia governor Brian Kemp is expected to appoint financial services executive Katie Loeffler to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat, according to Politico.
Georgia senator Johnny Isakson announced earlier this year that he would be leaving the Senate at the end of 2019 for health reasons.
Kemp’s appointment of Loeffler would be in defiance of President Trump, who prefers Representative Doug Collins (R., Ga.) for the position. Collins is a staunch Trump ally and is currently the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
Loeffler wrote in her application to Kemp to fill the Senate vacancy that “If chosen, I will stand with President Trump, Senator Perdue, and you to Keep America Great.”
Kemp and Loeffler met with Trump in November to discuss her possible candidacy. During the meeting, Trump pointed out that Loeffler had not backed his 2016 presidential campaign, and suggested that Loeffler did not have the political credentials for the position. Loeffler currently runs a bitcoin firm and is a co-owner of the Atlanta WNBA basketball team.
“You are hurting President Trump,” Representative Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.), a Trump ally, wrote to Kemp on Twitter. “You know this because he told you.”
However, Kemp does not appear to be backing down. Officials close to Kemp say he believes Loeffler will improve the Republican party’s appeal to suburban and women voters, many of whom have slid leftward after Trump’s election.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Collins did not rule out the possibility that he would run for the Senate seat in 2020 even if Loeffler is appointed to fill the vacancy.
“I appreciate the support I’ve received from the president and many others, but right now, as you can see in this interview, I have a big job to do in the next three weeks, and that’s impeachment,” said Collins. “We’ll have to see where the governor goes with this pick, and then we’ll have a decision to make after that.