Gov. Brian Kemp will unveil Kelly Loeffler as his U.S. Senate pick on Wednesday with a pep rally that he's promised will involve activists, elected officials and members of Congress. Who shows up - and who doesn't - will be telling.
The governor wants to present a united front behind Loeffler, a first-time candidate and finance executive who has drawn scorn from conservative critics. His staff worked the phones to line up RSVPs and endorsements ahead of the 10 a.m. event.
But some politicians hope to stay out of what could be a nasty internal GOP fight. President Donald Trump and prominent conservatives have endorsed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term congressman who said he is "strongly" considering a run for the Senate seat anyways.
Kemp will arrive at the event with some allies. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, House Speaker David Ralston and Attorney General Chris Carr are each expected to join him at the state Capitol to unveil the pick.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson won’t be there, but he reaffirmed his pledge to back Kemp’s pick at a recent breakfast with the governor. His retirement at year’s end due to health issues resulted in the open seat.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue is also expected to release a positive statement about Loeffler, as is U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter of Savannah.
The absence, or silence, of other Georgia politicos will send a calculated message. Several U.S. House members and state elected officials would not immediately indicate whether they’d back Loeffler or stay on the sidelines.
Some are likely to take the more measured approach of U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, who said through a spokesman he looks forward to meeting Loeffler, “learning more about her and her positions” and working to improve the state -- but didn’t offer her his endorsement.
More: Why Kemp is set to pick Loeffler and other burning Georgia Senate questions
More: Georgia gov prepares to defend Loeffler, his expected Senate pick
More: Kemp aides go nuclear on 'cowardly' criticism of Senate favorite
Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC