Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who is bringing his political career to a premature end for health reasons, delivered his farewell remarks yesterday, clearing the way for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to announce his choice to fill the senator's vacancy until the next election.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, the first-year governor introduced his choice this morning, though there was some controversy surrounding the process.
Gov. Brian Kemp appointed financial executive Kelly Loeffler to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, selecting the co-owner of Atlanta's WNBA franchise over a congressman that President Donald Trump repeatedly urged the Republican to pick. In remarks in Kemp's ceremonial office, Loeffler presented herself as a lifelong conservative who is "pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall and pro-Trump" to counter criticism pitting her as a closet liberal.
"I make no apologies for my conservative values," she said, "and will proudly support President Trump's conservative judges."
At first blush, this may seem straightforward to the point of being boring: a conservative Republican senator resigned; a conservative Republican governor had the responsibility of choosing someone to fill the vacancy; and the conservative Republican governor appointed a conservative Republican senator. No muss, no fuss, right?
Wrong. In fact, this has proven to be an unexpectedly messy intra-party fight.
At the heart of the conflict, not surprisingly, is Donald Trump, who wanted Kemp to choose Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a loyal White House ally, for the Senate seat. In fact, the president recently met with the governor and urged Kemp to follow his direction.
The governor resisted the presidential pressure, which only made matters worse.