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Trump floats a Doug Collins run against Kemp for Georgia governor

President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE, while speaking at a campaign rally to gin up support for Georgia Republican senators on Saturday, floated a potential 2022 gubernatorial run by Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor MORE (R-Ga.) to challenge Republican Gov. Brian KempBrian KempNorth Carolina county reverses course, ends coke machine ban MLB All-Star game to stay in Denver, judge rules MLB calls lawsuit over All-Star Game 'political theatrics' MORE

While addressing the crowd at a campaign event for Republican Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Herschel Walker skips Georgia's GOP convention Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock MORE and David PerdueDavid PerdueLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' MORE, Trump noted that Collins was in attendance, commending his efforts to challenge Loeffler for her Senate seat. 

Collins came in third in the special Senate general election last month that saw incumbent Loeffler and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock advance to a runoff, with no candidate achieving the 50 percent necessary to win in Georgia. 

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In addition, Republican Sen. David Perdue will face Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in a runoff election. Both contests are scheduled for Jan. 5.

The races will determine which party controls the Senate as President-elect Joe BidenJoe Biden 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Philadelphia shooting leaves 2 dead, injures toddler Ron Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin MORE takes office. 

“He [Collins] and Kelly had a great primary, a very strong primary,” Trump said Saturday. “They both did fantastically well, and he is on board and he is one of the greatest advocates I’ve ever met in Washington.”

“I want to thank Doug Collins,” the president continued. “Thank you, Doug. What a job he does.” 

“Doug, you want to run for governor in two years?” Trump then asked, to which the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. 

“He’d be a good-looking governor,” Trump added. 

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A gubernatorial run by Collins, who did not run for reelection in the House this year, would mean a challenge to Republican incumbent Kemp. 

Kemp, who took office in January 2019, is serving his first term as governor following his role as Georgia’s secretary of state. 

Trump’s remarks came after The Washington Post reported that the president called Kemp Saturday morning and pressured the governor to call a special session of the legislature to overturn the election results. 

Biden beat Trump by over 12,000 votes in the state, making the former vice president the first Democrat to do so in over 20 years. 

Trump also asked Kemp to demand an audit of absentee ballot signatures, the Post reported, which Kemp does not have the power to do. Kemp turned down Trump’s requests, a person familiar with the conversation told the Post.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall told The Hill in a statement that Trump called Kemp on Saturday morning to express his condolences regarding the death of Harrison Deal, a campaign staffer for Loeffler and longtime family friend of the governor. 

The spokesman did not address questions about the president's other requests, though Kemp tweeted Saturday afternoon that he told the president during the call that he has repeatedly asked for a signature audit. 

"As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia. #gapol," Kemp wrote.

The president replied later in the day, slamming Kemp. 

"But you never got the signature verification! Your people are refusing to do what you ask. What are they hiding?" Trump wrote. "At least immediately ask for a Special Session of the Legislature. That you can easily, and immediately, do. #Transparency"

A federal appeals court on Saturday shot down a bid by a conservative lawyer to block Biden’s victory in Georgia, upholding a lower court ruling that said that L. Lin Wood did not have the legal standing to sue over the results in Georgia.