From the moment Georgia representative Doug Collins decided to challenge appointed Senator Kelly Loeffler, a fellow Republican, in this November’s special election to fill the remainder of Johnny Isakson’s term, Loeffler has obsessively focused on covering her right flank. She has reason to do so. Collins was the conspicuous favorite of Donald Trump for the position when Governor Brian Kemp was mulling his options, having served POTUS loyally as a partisan attack dog during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings.
Loeffler, meanwhile, was a political neophyte with some questionable connections as co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA franchise (a league famously committed to feminist and racial equality values that are anathema to most conservatives) and a former big-time donor to Mitt Romney. Her main recommendation for the Senate, it seemed — other than the vague idea she would appeal to suburban women — was that she and her husband are roughly as rich as Croesus. This meant she could lavishly self-finance her campaign with plenty of jack left over to spend another small fortune in 2022, when, if she wins this year, she would share a GOP ticket with none other than Brian Kemp.
Once Collins jumped into the race, however, Loeffler understood she had to shed the RINO image and look Trumpier than anyone this side of Mike Pence, if only to keep the president on the sidelines. So she’s voted slavishly with Trump and let the world know about it, and has made a point of squabbling with the WNBA and her own players to protest their political preferences. With November approaching, however, Team Loeffler must have decided Collins was still a threat and released a remarkable ad:
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein comments, it’s quite the role reversal for Loeffler:
Once, Loeffler was promoted as a candidate who could help win over wavering moderates and independents in Atlanta’s suburbs, particularly on-the-fence women. Now her campaign is tongue-in-cheek comparing Loeffler, a wealthy former financial executive, to a murderous despot from the 400s.
It’s not clear to me the comparison is all that tongue-in-cheek considering the character and rhetoric of the president with whom Loeffler desperately wants Republican voters to identify her. The Collins campaign, of course, isn’t laughing, offering this humorless assessment:
His campaign swiped at the Hun comparison, saying she thinks “conservatives are grunting, filthy, mass-murdering open borders atheist polygamists.”
Only in MAGA-land do people identify Attila the Hun with support for liberal immigration policies.
It will be interesting to see if the intra-Republican race to the right in Georgia costs the GOP’s candidates down the line. They are not competing in a party primary, but in an open jungle primary in which it’s all but certain the top two vote-getters will proceed to a runoff in January. Democrat Raphael Warnock is generally expected to face the Republican survivor in that contest, which could quite possibly have a bearing on Senate control. If Loeffler makes the runoff, and it’s close, she might even regret paying for an ad that suggests, even tongue-in-cheek, that’s she’s all for “eliminating” the liberal media (scribes). In the Trump era, that’s just not very funny.