In the fight over Gov. Brian Kemp’s choice to fill a U.S. Senate seat, a few rhetorical shots were fired in the direction of Grady Memorial Hospital. Businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, Kemp’s pick for the job, serves on the hospital’s governing board, and some anti-abortion advocates, unsure about her stance on the issue, took aim at the hospital, calling it a “training ground for abortionists.” Elective abortions have not been performed at the hospital in at least a decade. HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: Hyosub Shin
Photo: Hyosub Shin

Capitol Recap: Grady takes a hit in fight for Georgia U.S. Senate seat

Georgia’s largest trauma care provider suffered some wounds of its own in the battle within the Republican Party over the naming of the state’s next U.S. senator.

Grady Memorial Hospital got caught in no man’s land between the forces lined up behind Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville.

Loeffler won the battle, but Collins has not given up on the war, holding out the possibility that he could run against her in November’s special election to fill the final two years of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.

Meanwhile, Grady might need some bandages.

The hospital got caught in the crossfire when conservatives got wind that Gov. Brian Kemp was planning to name Loeffler to replace Isakson, who is retiring for health reasons. They wanted Collins because, well, President Donald Trump wanted him and the congressman has a more established track record on the issues that concern them most.

Anti-abortion advocates unsure about Loeffler took aim at Grady because of her service on its governing board.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, called Grady a “training ground for abortionists” and said Loeffler’s ties to the hospital should “disqualify her from representing the state.”

Grady does not perform elective abortions and hasn’t for at least a decade. Dannenfelser said she cited Grady because of its connection to Emory University’s School of Medicine.

If attacks on Grady’s board continue, they could produce a lot of Republican friendly fire.

Other board members include Chairman Frank Blake, a retired chief executive of Home Depot and a stalwart Republican; former Metro Atlanta Chamber chief Sam Williams; and Bernie Tokarz, a policy guy who four years ago was then-Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s choice for a regional transportation board.

Another Republican, state Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, stepped up to support Grady, where his 2-year-old daughter was born.

“We ought to be thanking every one of those board members who donate their time toward ensuring Grady remains one of the premier burn and trauma centers in the Southeast,” Eaton said. “Not to mention all the important indigent care they do for our community.”

An empty chair: It took Kemp roughly three months to decide who among 500-some applicants should fill Isakson’s seat.

Now, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces an entirely different problem in trying to replace Isakson when he steps down at the end of the year: Nobody wants his job.

The job in question is chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.

The Hill questioned a number of GOP senators, including members of the committee, asking them whether they would like to become the next ethics chairman.

“Uh, I’m going to say probably not,” said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, a member of GOP leadership. “I don’t think that’s a sought-after position.”

It ain’t easy being the ethics sheriff. Investigating your colleagues is apparently not the fastest way to a seat at the cool table in the Senate cafeteria.

Seeing red, “I think”: There’s been lots of talk — much of it citing last year’s tight race for governor — that Georgia, in the rare position of having two U.S. Senate races at the same time, will be a battleground state in the upcoming election.

Some see the unconventional nature of November’s special election to fill Isakson’s seat — candidates will not go through a primary and, regardless of party, they will all appear on the same ballot — as an opportunity for a Democrat to win, especially if Collins jumps in to challenge Loeffler and splits the GOP vote.

But Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor and now the U.S. secretary of agriculture, appeared recently on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and cast that theory as mere speculation.

He’s not ready to buy into the idea that the state will reflect a blend of Republican red and Democratic blue.

He’s pretty sure he only sees red.

“Many people like to talk about Georgia becoming purple. I don’t think that’s the case,” Perdue said. “I think (Isakson’s) seat will be safe, I think, again.”

Perdue added that “Georgians recognize what this Republican administration meant to Georgia as well as the U.S. economy,” and he thinks that will be reflected in the outcomes of not just the race for Isakson’s seat, but in the state’s other U.S. Senate race, his cousin David’s bid for re-election.

“We think both of those Senate seats will remain in Republican hands,” the ex-governor said.

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