EXCLUSIVE: A pro-Trump super PAC announced Wednesday that it is endorsing Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat as the congressman continues his controversial campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., in a special election this November.
The endorsement from Great America PAC, which boasts that it has “raised and spent $40 million in support of Donald Trump’s candidacy, presidency, and agenda,” follows an endorsement of Collins earlier this week by Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., who became the first member of the Georgia congressional delegation to back Collins’ Senate bid.
Collins is seeking the seat vacated by retired Sen. Johnny Isakson at the end of 2019. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to temporarily fill the seat late last year despite reports that President Trump appealed to him directly to him to appoint Collins instead.
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“Georgians have seen the effective leadership of Doug Collins for years and the nation witnessed his strength and conviction during the partisan impeachment hearings of President Trump,” Ed Rollins, the chairman of Great America PAC, said in a statement announcing the endorsement.
He continued: “Collins is exactly the type of leader Georgia needs in the U.S. Senate. In a very short time, Kelly Loeffler has proven she puts protecting her personal wealth before protecting her constituents. This type of behavior is exactly what’s wrong with the DC swamp and must be rooted out.”
The incumbent Loeffler has run into some bad press lately as she is one of four senators who has come under fire for dumping large amounts of stock in the weeks before the coronavirus pandemic caused a crash in the U.S. stock market.
Loeffler denies wrongdoing and says she did not have any knowledge of the stock sales at the time they happened, saying that her financial advisors make buying and selling decisions for her portfolio without her input. Insider trading by a member of Congress would be illegal under the 2012 STOCK Act.
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“I’m informed only after those trades are made and I have nothing in terms of a say on what buys and sells are executed and what the timing is. I’m only advised after it happens — almost concurrent with the public reporting that we do here,” she told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson late last month. More recently, Loeffler has said she would liquidate all her stock holdings amid the increased scrutiny following initial reports about her financial moves.
Collins, who is taking the unusual step as a Republican of challenging an incumbent Republican, has run into his own opposition to his senate bid. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), an organization dedicated to boosting the GOP majority in the Senate, came out hard against Collins when he first announced his run.
“The shortsightedness in this decision is stunning,” NRSC Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin said in a statement decrying the potential negative electoral consequences of the intra-party challenge after Collins first confirmed the Senate bid. “Doug Collins’ selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump.”
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The NRSC released a digital ad in late February against Collins, highlighting the collegial southerner’s friendships with top Democrats including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Stacey Abrams, as well as his failing grade from the Conservative Review, a group which grades GOP members of Congress based on votes on selected bills.
“He’s longtime friends with Stacey Abrams, anti-Trump impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries, and President Obama,” the ad, which also highlights Collins’ past criticism of Trump says. “Don’t let DC Doug Collins fool you, he’ll do whatever it takes to get a promotion.”
Some of the top representatives in the Conservative Review’s rankings include Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio while some others who received failing grades include Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.
The Georgia special election does not include primaries, instead pitting all candidates of all parties against each other on a single ballot in November. If no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff held in January to decide between the two top candidates — a vote that has the potential to decide which party has the majority in the Senate until 2022.
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The race got off to an awkward start when Trump appeared to try to dissuade Collins from challenging Loeffler by floating Collins’ name to be his permanent Director of National Intelligence. Collins said he would not accept the position, and proceeded with his Senate run against the wishes of the GOP establishment — and apparently President Trump.
But now as Loeffler struggles with bad publicity, Collins, who was one of Trump’s staunchest defenders during the impeachment saga, is receiving support from high-profile Trump backers like Great America PAC.
“Great America PAC is one of President Trump’s strongest supporters and I am very honored to earn their support in my run for the U.S. Senate,” Collins said in a statement. “They played a critical role in electing the President in 2016, and I am confident they will do the same for me in 2020. I have tremendous respect for Ed Rollins and am proud to have his personal support as well.”
Tyler Olson covers politics for FoxNews.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @TylerOlson1791.