What a difference a decision makes. Wasn’t it just the other day that Georgia Republican Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, was the hero of the hour for his unwavering defense of President Donald Trump during his Kangaroo Court impeachment trial?
Now we are being told that he is just another tax-and-spend Washington politician, soft on crime and good buddies with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. What in the world has happened?
It seems Collins has had the temerity to say he intends to run for Johnny Isakson’s seat in the United States Senate, currently held by Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointee, Kelly Loeffler. He must have a pretty good chance of winning because Club for Growth, a Washington-based group, is spending roughly $3 million dollars trying to disparage him and his record in Washington.
David McIntosh, the club’s president, said in a statement that “Club for Growth will educate Georgia voters about Doug Collins’ record on economic issues and demand that he change his ways.” Oh, please. He must think folks here in Georgia are dumb as rocks and need some Washington special-interest group to tell us how to think.
I don’t know Doug Collins personally. I met him once at a speech to the Gainesville Kiwanis Club and, as I recall, he is a chaplain and a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve Command and was deployed to Iraq for a period of time. Even though I wowed the crowd that day with my usual dazzling wit and wisdom, I have a feeling he wouldn’t remember me from a tree stump.
Politicians being politicians, maybe Congressman Collins thought his defense of the president would be the ticket to getting him Trump’s endorsement for the Senate seat. After all, polls say that the president enjoys the approval of more than 90 percent of Georgia Republicans. But it didn’t happen. Despite being lobbied by Mr. Trump, Gov. Kemp appointed Loeffler instead.
The consensus of political navel-gazers is that Loeffler’s appointment is an attempt to broaden the party’s appeal with suburban women who are being heavily courted by the Democrats. This is a critically important constituency since Georgia voters will cast ballots for both of the state’s Senate seats in November — Sen. David Perdue is also up for reelection — and Democrats expect to be competitive. The fact that reports say Loeffler is willing to spend $20 million of her own money on her campaign doesn’t hurt.
I am grieved to report that Gov. Kemp, following the lead of several of his predecessors, didn’t seek my counsel before making his appointment. If he had, I would have cautioned him that We the Unwashed are the final decision-makers on who represents us in Washington, not political insiders. Just ask Jimmy Carter. When Sen. Richard Russell died in 1971, Gov. Carter appointed his buddy David Gambrell, a political novice like Loeffler, to fill the seat.
Gambrell hardly got the seat warm before he was ousted in the next election by a little-known state representative from Perry named Sam Nunn. The same thing could happen to Loeffler. As for appealing to suburban women, I know a bunch of them and I have yet to have one tell me they identify with a zillionaire who owns a women’s basketball team, has her own private jet and lives in a $10.5 million, 15,000-square-foot house in Atlanta. Maybe I hang out with the wrong crowd of suburban women.
About owning a basketball team, Jim Galloway, the respected political observer for the Atlanta newspaper, says “the WNBA has a history of appealing to black and LGBTQ fans, both groups far from Trump’s base. Plus, the league has a reputation for supporting progressive causes like a 2018 initiative that allowed fans to donate a portion of ticket sales to Planned Parenthood, an abortion rights group.”
That could be a problem for Loeffler. Remember that Jimmy Carter in his shameful racist campaign for governor in 1970 had pictures circulated to rednecks around the state showing his opponent, Carl Sanders, at the time a co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks, with his arm around Bill Bridges, a black basketball player. Sadly, it seemed to have worked.
Meanwhile, I have a feeling the Republican establishment’s ham-handed smear campaign against Doug Collins is going to backfire. I don’t know about you, but the more I see of it, the more I say: Run, Doug, run.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb