Ga.’s U.S. Senate race: Bubba McDonald backs Collins over Loeffler

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, Jr., a Donald Trump supporter, and his wife Shelley speak to a reporter after arriving in their recreational vehicle at the Corey Center for a watch party on Monday, March 1, 2016, Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald took sides in Georgia’s hotly competitive U.S. Senate race on Wednesday, backing U.S. Rep. Doug Collins over incumbent Kelly Loeffler.

He’s the first statewide elected official to break ranks with Gov. Brian Kemp, who tapped Loeffler in December.

McDonald said he picked Collins because of his “steadfast defense and support” for President Donald Trump, who he supported early in 2016.

“In looking to the future, Shelley and I feel very strongly that Doug Collins will be the best senator for the state of Georgia and for the nation.”

A first-time candidate and former financial executive, Loeffler has already spent $10 million of her own cash to boost her chances in the November election, a wild contest that features 21 candidates without any party primaries to filter out nominees. And she’s promised to spend at least $10 million more.

But she's facing new headwinds as she tries to settle questions about stock transactions during the coronavirus pandemic that led her to announce she would no longer invest in stocks in individual companies.

The governor has tried to rally the party's establishment around Loeffler, who quickly nabbed support from Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. She also has the backing of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and several local conservative groups.

Collins has countered with recent endorsements from U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson -- the first Republican member of Georgia's congressional delegation to take sides in the race – as well as several congressional candidates and law enforcement officials.

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