Georgia Senate candidate Doug Collins turned to one of his most powerful advocates to reinforce his anti-abortion credentials: His daughter Jordan.
In a 30-second ad released Thursday, Jordan tells her story to try to bolster her father’s challenge to U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who won the support from several anti-abortion groups despite their initial concerns about her stance.
Speaking directly to camera, Jordan delivers an emotional testimonial, before the ad fades to an image of the father-and-daughter duo bonding in a park:
“I don’t know Kelly Loeffler, but I know my dad. And her attacks, they’re just not true. Before I was born, my parents were told that I had spina bifida. They were told that I would never walk, and that they had an option. But they chose life. They chose me. Now I’ll get to stand up for my dad, because I know he’ll fight as hard for you as he always has for me.”
Abortion was an early flashpoint in the Republican-on-Republican feud between Loeffler and Collins. Several prominent anti-abortion activists opposed Loeffler before she was formally appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp only to change their mind and endorse her campaign.
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 after the Georgia Life Alliance announced it would spend $3 million to back Loeffler’s bid, Collins pronounced it “more than fishy” that a group that struggled to raise significant cash could suddenly bankroll such an aggressive buy.
The abortion debate is set to attract more attention following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both Collins and Loeffler have pushed for a vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a favorite of anti-abortion activists, before the November vote. But with a perch in the U.S. Senate, Loeffler is trying to frame herself as a key Barrett champion in the chamber.
Collins' new ad, which is set to air statewide on broadcast and cable, is his latest attempt to appeal to the state’s most conservative voters in the 21-candidate election. Both Collins and Loeffler are treating the vote as a Republican primary, trying to outflank each other for a spot in a January runoff.
Recent polls show no clear GOP frontrunner, though Loeffler had dipped into her personal fortune to bankroll an onslaught of TV and digital ads that Collins can’t match. The four-term congressman is instead relying on his grassroots appeal, attention-grabbing announcements and ads like this one to counter her.
Jordan’s TV debut adds a deeply personal story to the bitter race. In early 1992, Collins and his wife Lisa were dealt a shock when the results of an ultrasound showed their unborn daughter had a severe form of spina bifida known as myelomeningocele.
The couple spent the following weeks reading about the disease and preparing for a cesarean section birth followed immediately by surgery – and rejecting advice from a co-worker of Lisa who told her “you have a choice” about whether to keep Jordan.
“There is no choice,” replied Lisa, a Baptist who met Doug at church, according to a 2013 AJC story. “God gave me this child and what this child becomes. If God didn’t want me to keep this child, God would take care of it, and that was His choice.”
Now 28, Jordan works at a hospital in her hometown of Gainesville and gets around in a wheelchair, which she used to set records at North Hall High School in the 200-meter and 800-meter wheelchair races.