ATLANTA (AP) — A national political fundraising committee endorsed Rep. Doug Collins’ bid Wednesday to unseat his fellow Georgia Republican, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, in a November special election.
The endorsement from Great America PAC comes after the recently appointed Loeffler faced scrutiny over stock transactions she made just before the coronavirus pandemic sent markets tumbling.
The super PAC’s chairman, Ed Rollins, made reference to those trades in a statement endorsing Collins.
“In a very short time, Kelly Loeffler has proven she puts protecting her personal wealth well before protecting her constituents,” Rollins said.
Loeffler took her seat in the Senate in January after being appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the seat of Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down due to deteriorating health. A political newcomer, Loeffler soon drew opposition from within her own party from Collins, a four-term congressman who had actively sought the appointment to Isakson’s former seat.
The two Republicans are among more that 20 candidates running in a special election on Nov. 3 to fill the remaining two years of Isakson’s term.
The race won’t be filtered by the normal party primaries, meaning all comers will be together on the November ballot. The crowded field significantly increases the odds that the race will be decided by a Jan. 5 runoff, required by state law if no candidate breaks 50% in November.
Great America PAC calls itself as a “leading pro-Trump super PAC,” but Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson questioned the group’s connection to the president.
“Doug Collins is actively touting support from a group that President Trump and his representatives have denounced?” Lawson said in an email. “That’s a typical Washington politician for you.”
Trump, after initially lobbying for Collins to get the Senate appointment, has praised both Collins and Loeffler but has not made an endorsement in the race.
GOP Rep. Drew Ferguson, who represents west Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District, endorsed Collins on Monday, becoming the first member of Georgia’s congressional delegation to openly break ranks with Loeffler by backing Collins.
Loeffler and her husband, a wealthy businessman who is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, offloaded parts of their portfolio and purchased new stocks, including shares in a chemical company that manufactures protective equipment, as Congress was receiving briefings on the growing threat of the pandemic.
Loeffler has said she played no part in the trades, that they were managed by third-party advisers and that she has not attempted to profit from her time in the Senate. She also announced that she’s selling her holdings in individual stocks to avoid political distraction.
Top Democrats in the race include Raphael Warnock, pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached; Ed Tarver, a former federal prosecutor who was U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District under President Barack Obama; and Matt Lieberman, a former educator and the son of former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman.