Collins avoids talk of Senate bid in address to Georgia House

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins addresses the Georgia House of Representatives

Credit: John Spink

Credit: John Spink

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins addresses the Georgia House of Representatives

Hours after news broke that U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is preparing to challenge U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, he addressed the Georgia House - and studiously avoided any mention of a bid for higher office.

Anointed the chamber’s chaplain of the day, Collins on Tuesday delivered a sermon challenging legislators to “set stones” to guide their lives and acknowledged that sometimes “mistakes” can become one of those touchstones. That was an allusion to a recent incident in which he said Democrats were “in love with terrorists.”

“I said something that was wrong and I apologized for it,” Collins said.

READ | Collins will soon launch campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia

In his sermon and closing prayer, Collins honored Rep. Jay Powell, the House Rules Committee chairman who died in November and who Collins described as a mentor.

As a freshman lawmaker still finishing law school, Collins was assigned a seat next to Powell, then already a veteran attorney. Collins recalled regularly peppering him with legal questions and, one day, asking for help with a lawsuit he was struggling to write.

Collins handed Powell a copy of what he’d written so far. Powell then began to write the suit over, “in longform, the whole way out,” on the paper, Collins said.

“He then turned around and said ‘Here, copy,’” Collins said. “He was done talking, but his words spoke volumes.”

Before Collins’ formal introduction, Speaker David Ralston signaled his support of the soon-to-be senate candidate, stopping short of an explicit endorsement. Collins and Ralston have a strong relationship dating back to their time as state house colleagues; Collins voted for Ralston’s speakership while deployed in Iraq.

“He is my friend. He has stood by me when few would,” Ralston said.”And I don’t forget things like that.”