ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) Governor Brian Kemp has appointed Atlanta financial executive and political newcomer Kelly Loeffler to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the retiring Johnny Isakson.
Loeffler's appointment comes despite opposition from President Donald Trump and by more conservative wings of the Republican Party.
The selection is for the remaining time in retiring Senator Johnny Isakson's term. Isakson is retiring due to health-related issues.
His retirement announcement sparked Allies of President Trump and left some conservative groups pushing for current Georgia Representative Doug Collins to be selected, Politico reported last week.
Kemp responded on Twitter to the criticism over the possible nomination of Loeffler saying, "The idea that I would appoint someone to the U.S. Senate that is NOT pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-freedom, and 100% supportive of our President (and his plan to Keep America Great) is ridiculous."
Only one woman has ever served as a Senator from Georgia. Senator Rebecca Latimer Felton was appointed to the seat and served 24 hours as a Senator in 1922. It could also serve the Georgia GOP, which along with Republicans across the country, has seen support slowly erode among female voters.
It also opens the door to a big election in 2020. Loeffler says she will be running.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released this statement on Loeffler's appointment:
"I welcome Governor Kemp’s announcement that he will appoint Kelly Loeffler to serve the people of Georgia as their next United States Senator.
"Everybody knows that a generational leader like Johnny Isakson is irreplaceable, but Ms. Loeffler has an impressive record in business and community leadership. I am confident she is well prepared to continue Sen. Isakson’s historic legacy of advocating for veterans, strengthening our national defense, and fighting for middle-class families.
"I look forward to the Senator-designate joining our Republican majority in January as we continue to focus on fighting for American families, rebuilding our armed forces, and confirming impressive men and women to our federal courts.
"Senator-designate Loeffler will have my full support for reelection in 2020 as a Republican incumbent and I encourage all my colleagues to join me."
Not everyone is on board with Kemp's selection of Loeffler to the Senate. Democratic Party of Georgia chairperson Nikema Williams released this statement on the appointment, shortly after it was announced:
“Today’s appointment showcases exactly where Brian Kemp’s and Georgia Republicans’ priorities lie: with their own special interests, instead of the people of Georgia. After a reckless process where political games were put ahead of the public good, Kemp chose one of his own donors who will be nothing but a rubber stamp for today’s GOP agenda.
Kelly Loeffler has already made it clear that she will not be an independent voice for our state, and instead will fall in line with Donald Trump, David Perdue, and today’s Republican Party. Like her colleagues, Kelly Loeffler will have to run on the GOP’s toxic record of ripping away health care protections from Georgians and giving corporations a trillion dollar tax handout while leaving Georgia’s working families behind.
Along with Donald Trump, David Perdue, and her fellow Georgia Republicans, Kelly Loeffler represents an endangered species: her time is running out, and we look forward to electing her replacement in November 2020.”
Other local dignitaries are also sounding off.
Georgia Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller:
“Governor Kemp was tasked with appointing a replacement for the retiring Senator Johnny Isakson, a huge challenge! He has placed key Georgians in appointments in his brief tenure as governor. His appointment for the United States Senate will be no exception. Kelly Loeffler has a strong business record and she will use those assets in the US Senate representing Georgia. I look forward to working with her.”
Georgia Senator David Perdue:
“My number one goal is to continue the best economic turnaround in U.S. history and focus on the needs of the people of Georgia. The only way to ensure that happens is to advance President Trump’s agenda in the U.S. Senate. While Senator Isakson leaves behind big shoes to fill, I look forward to working with Kelly Loeffler, my new partner in the U.S. Senate, to continue that positive change for Georgia and our country.”
Representative Tom Graves:
"I welcome Ms. Loeffler to the Georgia delegation and look forward to getting to know her better. She's known as a proven business leader who I trust understands the challenges that await her. I'm grateful to Senator Isakson for his more than four decades of work on behalf of Georgia families, businesses and our nation's veterans. He will be missed but his impact will be felt for years to come."
WATCH the ceremony below (Can't see the video? Click here)