If there was any collegial friendship likely to blossom when Kelly Loeffler was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, it was with Utah’s Mitt Romney. After all, according to a 2013 interview with Atlanta magazine, Loeffler’s husband Jeff Sprecher had very warm things to say of Mitt by way of explaining the couple’s combined $1.6 million contribution to Romney’s 2012 presidential effort:
Sprecher: [W]e met Mitt Romney and got to know him personally many, many years ago, when he was trying to run in the primaries against John McCain [in 2008]. We met him at a neighbor’s house here in Atlanta when people didn’t really know who he was and he was just exploring whether he could even run. We got to know him and his wife, and have been to his house many times and they’ve been to our house. Taking politics off the table, the Romneys are really lovely people, and well intended. We’d never known anybody that was running for president and actually had a friendship with them! And so it was easy to support a friend. [Turns to Loeffler] Is that fair?
So it’s a bit eyebrow-raising that Loeffler went after that “lovely” person today after Mitt expressed an interest in hearing what John Bolton had to say about President Trump and Ukraine:
Appease the left? Romney wants to hear testimony from a famously right-wing Republican foreign policy expert who occupied high-ranking positions in the administrations of three Republican presidents. I have no doubt that if Mitt had won in 2012, Bolton would have been in another high-ranking position (he joined Loeffler in endorsing Romney’s candidacy after mulling his own that year). And the idea that Utah’s junior senator needs to “appease the left” for purposes of being reelected back home is hilarious on multiple counts.
If there’s any appeasement going on, it’s part of Loeffler’s ongoing effort to rebrand herself from a self-funding moderate that Governor Kemp hoped would appeal to suburban women to a wild partisan of the president’s. And it’s clear why this is happening, too: Loeffler faces a potential 2020 special jungle-primary election in which congressman Doug Collins — one of Trump’s favorite House impeachment pit bulls, and the Senate aspirant Trump pushed Kemp to appoint before he picked Loeffler — is considering a run with loud MAGA backing. In fact, Collins’s allies in Georgia are sponsoring legislation to force Loeffler to run in a regular Republican primary in May, which would not give the little-known, first-time candidate much time to build her ideological street cred.
So Loeffler is fighting the clock to get right with the GOP’s warrior-king so he doesn’t noisily back (or encourage his fans to noisily back) a challenge to her. And if that means shivving old friend Mitt Romney, well, that’s just a token of her understanding that Donald Trump is a jealous god who accepts no competing loyalties.