To fully understand the gratuitous attack just launched by former U.S. senator Kelly Loeffler on Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger for his alleged sins against Donald Trump, you have to appreciate that Loeffler has spent well over a year desperately trying to gain the approval of the 45th president.
Loeffler is asking the state’s attorney general to investigate Raffensperger for putting his “political self-interest ahead of the people of Georgia in conducting elections,” as the Washington Examiner explained. What Loeffler is referring to is basically just another recitation of Trump’s litany of lies about the 2020 elections in Georgia. The “investigation” she is asking for is an even bigger joke: The attorney general, a Republican, tartly turned down Loeffer’s request, noting that “as the lawyer for Georgia’s executive branch, the attorney general cannot investigate its own client.”
It all began late in 2019, when Governor Brian Kemp spurned Trump’s request that MAGA congressman Doug Collins be appointed to the Senate seat Johnny Isakson was about to vacate on health grounds. Kemp instead gave the plum to Loeffler, reportedly because she could self-fund the special election campaign she would have to immediately undertake to hold the seat. He also figured the socialite and WNBA co-owner could help the GOP stem its losses among suburban women. This opened a breach between Trump and his onetime ally Kemp that has only grown worse since then.
In the meantime, Collins challenged Loeffler, regularly calling her a corrupt RINO and touting his relationship with Trump. And thus began Loeffler’s frantic effort to head off a Trump endorsement of Collins by becoming the Trumpiest and most reactionary Republican in the Senate. Her rightward tangent concluded with a successful effort to win the endorsement of then-congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had already become an extremist legend.
Loeffler managed to keep Trump neutral while drowning Collins’s candidacy in an ocean of money, and prepared a savage runoff campaign against Democrat Raphael Warnock. But then she had to prove her fealty to Trump over and over again as he refused to accept defeat in Georgia and nationally, and began attacking Kemp and Raffensperger for certifying Biden’s victory. More determined than ever to propitiate her angry god, Loeffler called for Raffensperger’s resignation and echoed Trump’s lies early and often. But she lost to Warnock anyway.
Soon Loeffler was “considering” a rematch against Warnock (who is pursuing a full term in 2022) as she set up a voter-mobilization group that is basically a right-wing parody of Stacey Abrams’s Fair Fight organization. She was likely very happy earlier this week when Doug Collins surprisingly announced he wasn’t running for anything in 2022. And she wasted no time drawing attention to herself with a rather ridiculous gambit to beat the politically dead horse of Raffensperger.
Like every other Republican eying the Senate race, Loeffler is being forced to await a decision by football legend and Trump chum Herschel Walker, who is also “considering” a campaign against Warnock. But it seems she just can’t wait to signal to Mar-a-Lago that if Walker demurs, she’s ready to put on the truck-drivin’ garb she sported last time around and let the pursestrings loose in a comeback effort (maybe much like Trump’s own).
In response to her attack, Raffensperger had quite the riposte: “Kelly Loeffler’s failure to convince anyone she actually was a Trump supporter is the reason Georgia doesn’t have a Republican Senator or the United States a Republican Senate,” he said in a statement. “The letter and the allegations in it are laughable.”
I don’t know that the embattled Raffensperger’s election analysis is accurate: The loss of two Senate seats in January was the work of many hands. But he’s got one thing right: Insincerity is Kelly Loeffler’s brand.
Perhaps Trump will let her know the only campaign he’s interested in supporting her for is a 2022 primary challenge to Brian Kemp. Making her go after the man to whom she owes everything is the kind of cruel loyalty gesture Trump would probably enjoy, and that Loeffler deserves.