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NEW: Republicans Fret About “Intensifying” “Nasty GOP Fight” that Threatens Both Georgia Senate Seats

CNN: “Republicans Worry That a Bitter Battle Between Loeffler and Collins Will Divide Their Voters… Nasty Party Fight Could Spill Over to Perdue’s Race — and Undercut His Ability to Secure an Outright Win in November.”

Wall Street Journal: “The GOP Split Opens the Door for a Possible Democratic Win in November”

The “nasty GOP fight” in Georgia’s special Senate election continues to escalate, as Washington Republicans ramp up their campaign attacking Trump ally Congressman Doug Collins. As these two deeply flawed candidates race to the right and alienate critical independent voters in the process, Republicans are panicking and warning that this “raging intraparty fight” is making Georgia “one of their… biggest vulnerabilities” in 2020.

Over the weekend, political mega-donor and temporary Senator Kelly Loeffler drew front-page scrutiny from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the “super-swampy” ethical conflicts that have come to define her short time in Washington. Now, former Arkansas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee announced he has endorsed Collins while dinging Loeffler’s conservative bona fides. And as fears grow that a messy special election could “undercut his ability to secure an outright win,” Senator David Perdue is parsing his words and declining to directly endorse his current Senate colleague Loeffler — making clear the extent to which the GOP is worried this “family fight” will “hurt the party’s prospects” in November.

Get the latest on the nasty GOP battle “forcing Republicans to choose sides” in the Georgia Senate race:

CNN: Georgia race devolves into nasty GOP fight amid fears it could cost Senate majority

  • Republican Rep. Doug Collins’ Senate campaign in Georgia has prompted a raging intraparty fight leading to the departure of some of his top political advisers and recriminations with the Senate GOP’s main campaign arm.
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee is accusing Collins of running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican incumbent appointed by the governor, out of his own “selfish” interests — while raising alarms that the bid has jeopardized the party’s chances to hold onto two GOP seats and made it harder for President Donald Trump to carry the Peach State in the fall. 
  • The internecine warfare has GOP leaders increasingly worried that the Georgia race is one of their two biggest vulnerabilities as they seek to hang onto the Senate majority in the fall, according to multiple officials. The other is a Republican primary for a US Senate seat in Kansas featuring the divisive conservative Kris Kobach.
  • Republicans worry that a bitter battle between Loeffler and Collins will divide their voters and make it easier for the Democratic candidate to secure a majority vote in the fall.
  • And there are fears that the nasty party fight could spill over to Perdue’s race — and undercut his ability to secure an outright win in November.
  • Asked if he’s supporting Loeffler, Perdue said: “I have one objective and that is to get this President reelected. The second objective is get myself reelected. And right now, we have a sitting US senator, and I’m doing everything I can to help her be effective up here.”
  • Collins, a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve who previously worked as a floor leader in the Georgia House, has strong ties to the base of the state party and proven himself as one of Trump’s key defenders during the House impeachment proceedings.
  • Loeffler, a major GOP donor and a first-time politician, immediately came under attack from anti-abortion groups for serving on the board of a major hospital in Atlanta. In November, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said that alone “should disqualify her.”
  • The race has quickly turned into a contest for who can earn Trump’s praise. Loeffler has expressed her support for Trump, while the NRSC’s McLaughlin attacked Collins for withholding his “early support” of Trump despite claiming “to have been there from the beginning.”
  • During the impeachment trial, Loeffler said that Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, wanted “to appease the left” in calling for witnesses during the impeachment trial, a highly unusual broadside launched by a sitting senator of the same party. Collins’ campaign then criticized her in a digital ad for donating nearly to Romney’s presidential races while giving nothing to Trump’s 2016 campaign.
  • “There was a lot of talk about the amount of money that she and her husband were going to spend,” said the Collins strategist. “That’s not going to deter Doug.”

Wall Street Journal: GOP Fight Over Georgia Senate Seat Intensifies

  • An intraparty Republican fight over a Georgia Senate seat is intensifying, as campaign vendors face pressure not to work with a congressman trying to unseat the state’s newly appointed senator.
  • The battle pits 53-year-old Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term conservative congressman and staunch defender of President Trump, against Sen. Kelly Loeffler, 49, a business executive with no political experience who has tens of millions of dollars of personal funds to spend on a campaign. 
  • Some Republicans worry that a divisive fight would hurt the party’s prospects against the Democratic nominee in November.
  • The unknown factor in the Collins-Loeffler showdown is Mr. Trump, who thanked them both recently for their support during the impeachment process. Mr. Collins voted against articles of impeachment against the president in the House and Ms. Loeffler voted for his acquittal in the Senate. At a White House event, Mr. Trump called Ms. Loeffler “a young woman who I didn’t know at all, but she’s been so supportive.” A few minutes later, he saluted Mr. Collins, saying, “You have been so great. Thank you very much, Doug…Really amazing job.” 
  • In November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Kemp and Ms. Loeffler met quietly with Mr. Trump, but the meeting didn’t go well. The president pressed for Mr. Collins, who had applied for the job, to be the appointee. Mr. Kemp, for whom Mr. Trump campaigned in 2018, appointed Ms. Loeffler anyway.
  • The NRSC has blasted Rep. Collins’s decision to run as selfish. 
  • The GOP split opens the door for a possible Democratic win in November. Under state law, all candidates run against each other in such a vote without a party primary first. The Rev. Raphael Warnock, the African-American pastor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, is seen as a leading Democratic candidate with backing from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
  • The split is hurting the party by forcing Republicans to choose sides, [GOP strategist Eric Tanenblatt] said, adding, “I’m not a big fan of family fights.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Huckabee endorses Doug Collins in Georgia Senate race

  • U.S. Rep. Doug Collins landed the support Wednesday of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, giving him his biggest endorsement yet in his campaign to unseat fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 
  • “Doug didn’t become pro-life to be elected. His commitment to the worth and dignity of every human life is not a political calculation, but a deep spiritual conviction. His ability to articulate a heartfelt conservative position with uncanny clarity impressed me from the first time I heard him speak.” 
  • Collins and Loeffler are scrambling to lock up prominent supporters ahead of the November election, a free-for-all with no primary to filter out nominees.
  • “It’s not just that he says the right things. Doug Collins does the right things because he truly believes in the right things,” said Huckabee…

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