U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday that there could be political consequences if Kemp decides not to choose President Trump’s reported favorite for the state’s expected U.S. Senate vacancy.
In a series of Twitter messages on the day after Thanksgiving, Gaetz, a Florida Republican, called on Kemp to choose U.S. Rep. Doug Collins for the seat, when Sen. Johnny Isakson steps down at the end of the year.
Collins, 53, is a Republican who has represented Georgia in Congress since January 2013 and is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to hold impeachment hearings this week. Like Gaetz, who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, Collins is considered a staunch defender of President Trump.
Kemp, a Republican, has been leaning instead toward appointing financial executive Kelly Loeffler to the Senate, according to the Washington Times.
“You are ignoring his request because you THINK you know better than @POTUS,” Gaetz wrote in one Twitter message. “If you substitute your judgement [sic] for the President’s, maybe you need a primary in 2022. Let’s see if you can win one w/o Trump.”
“You are hurting President Trump,” Gaetz wrote in another tweet. “You know this because he told you.”
Kemp had fired off a Twitter message of his own.
“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,” Kemp wrote. “The attacks and games are absolutely absurd. Frankly, I could care less what the political establishment thinks.”
Kemp had previously faced backlash from pro-life advocates over Loeffler’s reported ties to organizations favoring abortion.
The Senate vacancy arose in August when Isakson, the 74-year-old chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, announced plans to retire amid his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
“I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff," Isakson said at the time.
Meanwhile, Kemp and Loeffler met with Trump at the White House last Sunday – with the meeting quickly becoming tense and ending abruptly, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
Sources told the Journal that Kemp said he remained open to the president’s preference for the Senate seat as well, and Kemp and Trump reportedly spoke by phone on Monday, although the outcome of their discussion was unknown, the report said.