Gov. Brian Kemp has indicated he plans to appoint businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to fill the U.S. Senate seat Johnny Isakson is vacating at the end of the year. Loeffler is a co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and the head of the financial services firm Bakkt. Vino Wong vwong@ajc.com

Who is Kelly Loeffler?

Politics

  • Gov. Brian Kemp has named businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to fill the U.S. Senate seat Johnny Isakson is vacating at the end of the year for health reasons. In the application she submitted to the governor’s office just under the deadline, Loeffler wrote about how she would support President Donald Trump and help “Keep America Great.”
  • In 2014, she considered running for an open U.S. Senate seat but passed up the opportunity. She said then, though, that she was concerned that “the average family or individual is being left behind and may not have the same opportunities that I had coming out of public schools just a couple of decades ago.”

Political assets

  • A multimillionaire, Loeffler will be able to self-finance her campaign in what could be an expensive special election next year to fill the remaining two years on Isakson’s term.
  • Political observers say she also may be able to bring back suburban women who have left the Republican Party during the Trump administration.

Political liabilities

  • Loeffler is not a favorite of the conservative wing of Georgia’s Republican Party. When her name surfaced as a contender for Isakson’s seat, critics circulated screen shots of past donations to Democrats, as well as more recent contributions from her company’s political action committee.
  • They also contrasted her support for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012 – when she gave $750,000 to the candidate’s PAC – with her lack of financial support for Trump’s 2016 campaign for the White House. She has since ponied up to his campaign, including a $100,000 gift to participate in Trump’s Nov. 8 roundtable in Atlanta.

Career

  • Loeffler is the CEO of the financial services firm Bakkt and a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, the city’s WNBA franchise.
  • She used to be the chief communications and marketing officer and head of investor relations for the Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange, a financial trading platform that owns the New York Stock Exchange. Intercontinental Exchange was founded by Loeffler’s husband, Jeff Sprecher.

Other professional activities

  • Loeffler also serves on the boards of Georgia Power and Grady Memorial Hospital. She has also served on the boards of the Georgia Research Alliance and Skyland Trail, a nonprofit residential treatment center for mental health serving adolescents ages 14-17 and adults.

Background

  • Loeffler was born in Bloomington, Ill., and grew up on the family farm, where she worked in the soybean fields. In high school, she competed in cross country, track and basketball.

Schooling

  • A bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1992.
  • A master of business administration from DePaul University in 1999.

It’s official: Georgia governor taps Kelly Loeffler to replace Isakson

> Updates: Read more about Kelly Loeffler and Georgia Politics

> Related: Who is Doug Collins?

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