Rep. Collins to challenge appointed Sen. Loeffler in GOP clash in Georgia

Collins, a four-term Republican from northern Georgia, had lobbied hard for the position when Sen. Johnny Isakson announced his retirement last year. Kemp, however, chose Loeffler against the advice of Trump, who backed Collins for the job.

House officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly about Collins’s plans, which were first report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. A spokeswoman for the congressman declined to comment.

The news comes as Democrats are eyeing Georgia as a top 2020 target in their bid to retake the Senate. Since the race would constitute a special election to finish Isakson’s last two years in office, it would not include a primary, allowing multiple candidates of both parties to run for the position.

That means, should Democrats unify behind one candidate, they could take advantage of a split in the GOP base. If no candidate receives more than a majority of the vote, the top two candidates would proceed to a runoff in January 2021.

As the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Collins has played an integral role in defending the president in the impeachment inquiry and on television. He is expected to have the support of Trump’s most aggressive supporters in the House, which could cause problems for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which have backed Loeffler.

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