Fox News opinion personality Sean Hannity has taken on the role of lead naysayer when it comes to Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to tap finance executive Kelly Loeffler to replace Johnny Isakson in the U.S. Senate.
As news of the appointment hardened on Monday, Hannity -- speaking from his daily perch on WSB Radio -- accused the Republican governor and his staff of acting like “jackasses” for refusing an invitation to justify his choice on-air.
“It sounds like they’re mad and angry that they’re getting called out for picking somebody that’s a RINO. They’re just mad that we’re trying to get to the bottom of it before I think he makes a big mistake,” said Hannity.
He gave out the number to the governor’s office and urged his listeners to clog the phone lines with a message that Collins is the “perfect fit” for the job.
“It’s kind of sad. They don’t even want to hear from conservatives, without whose help Kemp doesn’t become the governor,” Hannity said. “I’m standing true to conservative principles.”
The attack was muted somewhat by the fact that Hannity gave out the phone number at 3:40 p.m., about an hour before state offices close. And he was immediately followed on WSB Radio by fellow conservative Erick Erickson, who argued the other side. Erickson pointed to Kemp’s support for legislation that would bar nearly all abortions in Georgia as evidence that the governor’s judgment should be trusted.
Hannity kept up his attacks on the governor on his Monday night TV show.
“Brian Kemp is appointing what appears to be an untested, big Republican Romney donor described by many as a RINO,” he said. “Why appoint a huge Romney supporter, not a Trump supporter?”
Hannity focused on U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, as “a rock star.” Collins has indicated he might run for the seat in 2020 if not appointed by Kemp. “He has single-handedly helped spearhead the GOP’s coup resistance with great, great courage and conviction – unlike so many others,” Hannity declared.
Question: Exactly what does “single-handedly helped” actually mean?
Gov. Brian Kemp has scheduled a 10 a.m. Wednesday gathering at the state Capitol to announce his choice for the U.S. Senate. Neither U.S. senator from Georgia is expected to be there -- the chamber has votes scheduled that day, but Johnny Isakson has vowed to back the governor’s choice of Kelly Loeffler to replace him.
Attorney General Chris Carr, a former Isakson chief of staff, will be there. The absence of others would be telling.
One thing to keep in mind: The bond between House Speaker David Ralston and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville is pretty strong. Collins was a member of the state House when Ralston made his first, unsuccessful bid for the speakership in 2008. Collins insisted on casting his vote for Ralston from his reservist posting in the Mideast -- when he could easily have ducked the issue.
More worrisome for the coming Loeffler election campaign might be a photo of Loeffler paired with former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams -- which we’ve already seen in a number of GOP Twitter feeds.
A spokeswoman for Abrams confirmed that the photo is genuine, although it has been clearly cropped to eliminate others in the frame. The photo appears to have been taken at an Atlanta Dream event -- in August, Abrams joined a newly formed board of advocates for the Women’s National Basketball Players Association. Loeffler is a co-owner of the Dream.
We think we recognize a slice of former WNBA president Lisa Borders’ face on the right. We’ve lodged an inquiry with the Atlanta Dream organization:
A bit of trivia: Abrams ran Border’s unsuccessful 2009 bid for mayor of Atlanta.
Today is Election Run-off Day in cities across Georgia. Mayoral contests in cities from Smyrna to Savannah to Valdosta are at stake, as are council positions. The state Democratic party has set up a “voter protection hotline” for any reports of polling station problems: 1-888-730-5816.
Vice President Mike Pence will join Tuesday festivities in the U.S. Senate to honor the retiring Johnny Isakson.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are co-hosting a rare, bipartisan luncheon for members, which Pence plans to attend. (Although mostly ceremonial in nature, the vice president serves as the Senate’s presiding officer.)
Isakson, of course, is famously known for inviting members of both parties to his annual barbecue. We’ve heard rumors that some senators are thinking aloud about how to continue the tradition after he leaves at the end of the year.
At about 2:30 p.m., Isakson will give his farewell speech on the Senate floor. The theme, naturally, is bipartisanship. After that, a couple dozen senators will line up to say a few words. Georgia’s other senator, David Perdue, will preside.
U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Tom Graves, will be allowed on the Senate floor to sit with Isakson’s staff during the speeches. His family members will watch from the gallery above.
Exactly one name will be on the Republican presidential primary ballot on March 24: that of incumbent Donald Trump. The Georgia GOP has joined several other state party organizations that have barred all other candidates.
Georgia officials announced Monday that the party’s executive committee had considered requests from Trump and four other candidates -- President R19 Boddie, Rocky Da Le Fuente, former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld -- before unanimously deciding to omit all but the president.
State GOP chair David Shafer said in a statement that Trump was the only candidate “with any significant level of support among Republican voters in Georgia who ‘unambiguously’ pledged to support the Republican nominee for president.” (That’s a pledge Trump himself famously didn’t make in 2016.)
Walsh accused the Georgia GOP of “calcifying around a cancerous criminal.”
“Rather than uphold our values and embrace healthy political debate and discourse, the Georgia Republican Party bosses have chosen to disenfranchise their own voters simply to protect a man who is unfit for office,” he said.
And Weld blasted the party’s decision in a Tweet late Monday:
“Apparently @realDonaldTrump’s bromance with Putin extends to emulating the Russian’s approach to elections. The #GAGOP just decided the Georgia Republican Presidential Primary ballot will have only one candidate on it: Donald Trump. What is DJT afraid of?”
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