According to the Wall Street Journal, President Trump and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp quietly met last Sunday in the White House. Kemp brought along Kelly Loeffler, an Atlanta businesswoman who is under consideration as an appointee to fill the Senate seat of Senator Johnny Isakson. Isakson announced his retirement last August, after a forty-year career in politics. He cited health concerns.
The trip was unannounced to the press and Kemp kept the information about the trip from his top aides. President Trump didn’t tell senior aides at the White House about the meeting, either, not even the ones who have been involved in the process. It is reported that the meeting didn’t go particularly well. The two men have been discussing the choice Kemp has to make for several months. The problem is that Trump is encouraging Kemp to appoint Rep. Doug Collins, a loyal Trump supporter who has risen in national recognition since his involvement in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings. Collins is the ranking member on the committee. Kemp is leaning toward appointing Ms. Loeffler. Loeffler would be a status quo kind of appointment – a wealthy, moderate Republican woman who pro-life organizations are coming out against.
Loeffler is part owner of the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team. The team has promoted Planned Parenthood. Loeffler’s association with the team, as well as her position on the board of Grady Health, a network of health facilities, make her guilty by association with pro-abortion organizations. Pro-life conservatives are speaking out this week. Many observers think that Kemp has already decided to appoint Loeffler.
Penny Young Nance, the head of the pro-life Concerned Women for America, blasted Kemp’s reported choice of Loefller on Wednesday.
“There are better choices for Gov.Kemp 4 the next U.S. Senator from GA. He has a list of fantastic pro-life candidates. We hope he doesn’t pick the one the pro-life community will oppose,’ she tweeted on Wednesday.
“Kelly Loeffler should be disqualified as a GA Senate appointment,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser tweeted. “She’s on the board of Grady Memorial Hospital, largest abortion provider in the state. Grady is an abortionist training hub. Its doctors are leading advocates AGAINST @BrianKempGA pro-life laws.”
The March for Life and Tea Party Patriots also voice opposition to Loeffler. Kemp, though, is trying to reassure those opposed to Loeffler that he would not appoint someone who is pro-abortion.
I stand with hardworking Georgians and @POTUS. The idea that I would appoint someone to the U.S. Senate that is NOT pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-freedom, and 100% supportive of our President (and his plan to Keep America Great) is ridiculous. (1 of 2) #gapol
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) November 27, 2019
Maybe he is trying to poke a finger in the eye of the Republican insiders in Washington, D.C. His follow-up tweet sounds a bit petulant.
The attacks and games are absolutely absurd. Frankly, I could care less what the political establishment thinks. Happy Thanksgiving! More information after the holiday! (2 of 2) #gapol
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) November 27, 2019
The meeting on Sunday was short and it is reported that Kemp may have announced to Trump that Loeffler is his choice. That would be a reason for her to be in the meeting. Kemp promised President Trump that he would let him know of his choice ahead of a public announcement. Kemp planned to make the announcement after Thanksgiving so it can be assumed he will do it next week.
But the private huddle turned tense and ended quickly, according to people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Trump has preferred Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican who has vocally defended the president during the impeachment process, and he told Mr. Kemp that he would be taking a risk by appointing the politically untested Ms. Loeffler. At one point Mr. Trump questioned why they were holding the meeting if Mr. Kemp had made his decision.
The Georgia governor presented Ms. Loeffler as his top choice, Mr. Trump told allies. But Mr. Kemp also told the president that he was open to his opinion, according to the people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Kemp’s team has discussed announcing the decision after Thanksgiving.
The two men spoke again by phone briefly on Monday, according to people familiar with the call. It is unknown whether the discussions with Mr. Trump altered Mr. Kemp’s preference for Ms. Loeffler.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the meeting was “very nice”. Governor Kemp’s spokeswoman said he will “appoint a strong supporter of the President”.
“President Trump had a very nice meeting at the White House on Sunday with Gov. Kemp of Georgia,” Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary and communications director, said in a statement. “They discussed many things including his potential appointment of a senator and the timing of the appointment. Various names were discussed. It was a very friendly meeting.”
The governor’s office declined to comment for this article before publication. After the article was posted, Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said in a statement: “Governor Kemp plans to appoint a strong supporter of the President who will end the impeachment circus and advance conservative policies that Keep America Great.”
We will soon know if Governor Kemp, for whom President Trump campaigned in his race against Stacey Abrams, will take Trump’s advice or go it on his own. Trump has talked to Kemp several times over the last weeks, especially after watching Collins’ performance during the impeachment hearings. Kemp, though, is looking to the 2020 special election that will be held for the seat. Collins says he’ll likely run then if he isn’t given the appointment now. Kemp is said to be looking at Loeffler’s appointment so that she can help with suburban women’s votes in 2020 as they are looked upon as deciders in elections, especially after the 2018 election cycle.
There is an exclusive piece that was published earlier today that claims that Kemp has, in fact, made his decision. Drum roll, please…. He’s choosing Loeffler. The announcement is set for “early next week”. The play for the suburban women’s vote was the deciding factor. Hoo boy. This might get interesting.