“Bitter Republican Showdown” Kicks into High Gear as Loeffler and Collins Escalate Attacks

February 7, 2020

The “all-out Republican feud” continues to ramp up into an expensive and bitter intraparty brawl between the “political mega-donor” and Trump-allied Congressman

ATLANTA — “Political mega-donor” Kelly Loeffler and top Trump ally Congressman Doug Collins wasted no time diving head-first into an expensive “brutal Republican-on-Republican fight” this week. While the Georgia GOP is roiling in “an all-out Republican feud,” Loeffler and her allies began their multi-million dollar attack on Collins this weekend starting off with a $3 million “broadside” from an out-of-state group, in addition to the $5 million Loeffler has already poured into her campaign.

But the “bitter Republican showdown” is just getting started as Collins launched his own ads attacking Loeffler and her out-of-state allies, escalating their “fierce melee” even further while both continue to ignore independent Georgia voters in favor of a narrow, right-wing base.

With Loeffler and Collins now poised for a multimillion dollar slugfest, it’s becoming clear even to Republicans this intraparty brawl has led to “a Republican Party rift that is poised to put Georgia in play for Democrats.” Top political analysts are downgrading the GOP’s chances in the race, and one Georgia Republican described the party’s situation best: “It’s going to be a little messy…Actually, it’s going to be very messy.”

See the coverage the Georgia GOP’s facing after another rough week:

AJC: Collins slams ‘pretend farmer’ Loeffler in Georgia Senate race

  • An opening volley of attacks between the newly-appointed incumbent’s allies and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins offered a glimpse of just how scathing this Republican feud over Loeffler’s seat will be.
  • It started over the weekend when the conservative Club for Growth organization unveiled plans to spend $3 million to clog Georgia’s airwaves with attacks scrutinizing Collins’ voting record.
  • The four-term congressman, who launched his campaign last week with a promise to support President Donald Trump, swiped back with a digital ad highlighting one of the votes the anti-tax group has slammed him for taking: The U.S. House passage of a sweeping farm package.
  • “Why team up with a Washington special interest group that’s against Georgia farmers?” a narrator in a digital ad asked, as grainy images of Loeffler splashed on the screen.
  • The ad then invoked the Washington-based group’s opposition to Trump in the 2016 election, still a sore spot among some Georgia GOP officials.
  • It closed with an explicit attack on Loeffler, who grew up on a soybean farm in rural Illinois, and an implicit one on Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed her: “Kelly Loeffler: Pretend farmer with rotten friends.”
  • The intraparty feuding between Collins and Loeffler is just one part of a November special election for Isakson’s former seat that pits some of Georgia’s most powerful politicians against each other in a complicated proxy battle.

Bloomberg: Group Lobs First Major Airwave Strike in Georgia Ballot Royale

  • The blistering TV ad the Club for Growth released Monday morning against Rep. Doug Collins is the first volley in the party-wide blowback that erupted after the Georgia Republican’s decision to challenge recently appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
  • The group, which advocates for lowering taxes and pledged $3 million to highlight Collins’ voting record, used its opening salvo to call him a D.C. swamp-dweller who’s “chomping at the bit to spend more of your money.”
  • November’s jungle primary special election has also sparked fury from GOP leaders and further promises of financial support to ensure Loeffler wins.
  • While the Club’s animus for Collins is ideological, Republican leaders who quickly denounced his campaign fear the multi-million-dollar mudslinging Senate race will smudge the party’s candidates running up and down the ballot — including President Donald Trump.
  • “I don’t think anyone will have ever seen a state-wide campaign like this,” said Jay Williams, a longtime Republican strategist in the state. “This is going to be a bloodbath because you’re going to have two very, very well-funded candidates.”
  • Beyond the money, the concern among party leaders is that the contest will divert Loeffler’s attention from helping Trump win over Atlanta’s booming suburbs by appealing to women swing voters.
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which backs incumbents, slammed Collins last week for “shortsightedness” and “selfishness.”
  • Moderate Georgia voters subjected to endless attack ads for the Senate seat might be turned off from voting for Republicans, said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor for the University of Virginia’s Crystal Ball website.

Marietta Daily Journal: EDITORIAL: Will Collins-Loeffler race open door for a Democrat?

  • Congressman Doug Collins finally decided to challenge Georgia’s freshly appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler for the seat held formerly by Johnny Isakson, setting up a bruising, divisive battle between two Republicans instead of the party’s coalescing behind one candidate.
  • Will Collins and Loeffler “tear each other apart and open up the seat for a Democrat?”
  • Collins’ candidacy drew a blistering denouncement by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which backs Loeffler.
  • “The shortsightedness in this decision is stunning,” said NRSC Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin. “Doug Collins’ selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler and President Trump.”
  • There already was a backlash from the Republican base in Georgia over Gov. Brian Kemp’s naming Loeffler to the Senate instead of Collins, who sought the appointment with the backing of President Trump.
  • Now Loeffler and Collins will be attacking each other to the benefit of the Democrats who are licking their chops over the prospects of making new inroads in Georgia — not the scenario envisioned by Kemp.
  • [Kemp] wanted a fresh face candidate who could broaden the GOP base particularly among metro Atlanta suburban women who have trended toward Democrats in recent elections. That goal and Kemp’s hopes of bringing the Republican Party together behind Loeffler are gone with the wind.

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