Doug Collins on potential 2020 Senate run: I'm not 'ruling it out'

Doug Collins on potential 2020 Senate run: I'm not 'ruling it out'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsSunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Loeffler traded .4M in stocks as Congress responded to coronavirus pandemic MORE (R-Ga.) said on Thursday that he hasn’t ruled out a campaign for retiring Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler traded .4M in stocks as Congress responded to coronavirus pandemic Loeffler under fire for stock trades amid coronavirus outbreak The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden riding wave of momentum after stunning Super Tuesday MORE’s (R) seat in 2020, raising the possibility of a challenge to incoming Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly Loeffler2020 on my mind: Democrats have to think like Mitch McConnell 16 things to know today about coronavirus outbreak The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden offers to talk coronavirus response with Trump MORE (R). 

Loeffler, a wealthy finance executive and Republican mega-donor, was tapped by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) this week to replace Isakson in the Senate when he steps down at the end of the year.

But that appointment amounts to an 11-month stint in the chamber, and she’ll face a special election next year to decide who will finish out the rest of Isakson’s term, which expires in 2022.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE and his allies had pressed Kemp for weeks to appoint Collins to Isakson’s Senate seat. Kemp ultimately bucked the president’s wishes, however, opting instead to choose Loeffler, a political outsider who Kemp and his allies believed could help the GOP reclaim suburban voters, especially women, who have fled the party in recent years.

In an interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Thursday, Collins said he was too consumed with the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House to think about a 2020 Senate run. But he added that he hadn’t ruled it out and would “deal with that” after the impeachment process is wrapped up.

“We'll make a statement or we'll deal with that after the fact. I'm not ... ruling it out,” Collins said.

“I'm just simply stating a fact of where we're at right now," he added. "For my constituents, the state of Georgia and the country, I'm in a position right now that has historical lights on it. I cannot be distracted from whatever I have to do up here to anything else.”

It wasn’t the first time Collins has suggested that he may run for Isakson’s seat in 2020. Even before the formal announcement of Loeffler’s appointment on Wednesday, Collins had said that he was “strongly” considering a bid for the seat if he wasn’t appointed by Kemp.

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But his comments on Thursday were his most explicit since Loeffler was named as Isakson’s replacement. In a statement on Wednesday, Collins said he respected Kemp’s decision and would focus for the time being on “defending our president against partisan impeachment attacks.”

Loeffler’s appointment has sparked frustration among Trump’s allies and the Republican grassroots, who have questioned her conservative bonafides and believe Collins should have been chosen to replace Isakson. That frustration has opened up something of a rift in Georgia’s Republican coalition that Democrats are hoping to capitalize on in 2020. 

Still, Loeffler will enter the 2020 special election with several advantages. She has the full backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Progressive group knocks McConnell for talking judicial picks during coronavirus Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill MORE (R-Ky.) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She’s also planning to spend $20 million of her personal fortune on her campaign. 

Unlike a regularly scheduled election, there will be no primary to choose the Democratic and Republican nominees for the Senate seat. Instead, candidates of all parties will appear on a single ballot in November. If no candidate manages to win a majority in that election, the two top finishers will face each other in a run-off election tentatively set for January 2021.