Atlanta police union lines up behind Doug Collins

An Atlanta police union is backing Doug Collins' bid for U.S. Senate after the Republican called for the removal of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard from the investigation into a high-profile shooting that led to charges against two officers.

Collins is set to appear with members of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623 union on Thursday to tout the endorsement in his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

The four-term congressman has traveled the state to urge Howard to step aside and allow an independent prosecutor to take up the case after the district attorney charged two Atlanta police officers with Rayshard Brooks' killing.

About the Senate special election

The November special election for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seat features 21 candidates on the same ballot with no party primary to filter out nominees.

If no one gets a majority of the vote – all but certain given the number of candidates - the two top finishers will square off in a January runoff.

Because of the dynamics, it means there’s likely to be one Republican and one Democrat in January matchup. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is Loeffler’s most formidable GOP challenger, and polls show them in a close race. Raphael Warnock is the establishment-backed Democrat, though he faces competition from educator Matt Lieberman and former federal prosecutor Ed Tarver from his party’s base.

The race is separate from Georgia’s other U.S. Senate contest. Republican David Perdue, who is seeking a second term in office, faces Democrat Jon Ossoff and Libertarian Shane Hazel. That race, too could head to a runoff.

And he sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr urging him to open an investigation into Howard’s “egregious abuse of power” and accused him being driven by political reasons. The long-time Atlanta prosecutor was trounced in an August runoff by Fani Willis, one of his former deputies.

The son of a Georgia State Patrol trooper, Collins has ratcheted up his criticism of Howard to both demonstrate his support for law enforcement and undercut supporters of Loeffler who have not echoed his call.

Among them is Attorney General Chris Carr, who has pointed to state laws that show his office has the legal authority to appoint another prosecutor to a case only if a court disqualifies the DA or if the DA recuses himself or herself.

Howard has denied accusations that he was politically motivated to bring criminal charges against Garrett Rolfe, who fired the shots that killed Brooks, and Officer Devin Brosnan. Both have said they followed police protocol and did nothing wrong.