As early voting kicked off in Georgia Monday, Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins was still busy rounding up support for his candidacy in the nail-biting special election for a U.S. Senate seat held by rival Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Gov. Brian Kemp appointed the financial executive to the U.S. Senate last year to replace Republican Johnny Isakson, who stepped down because of health issues.
Loeffler, a co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA franchise, was selected even though President Donald Trump repeatedly urged Kemp to pick Collins.
The four-term congressman campaigned in St. Simons and Brunswick over the weekend touting his record and urging coastal Georgians to vote for Trump and Senator David Perdue, who is facing a stiff challenge from Democrat John Ossoff.
On Saturday, he hosted a meet and greet at Coastal Kitchen and gave voters a primer on finding his name on a ballot crowded with other competitors, including several Democrats and a Libertarian.
“There are 20-something names,’’ said Collins. “The third person is Doug Collins. You don’t need to go any farther.”
“We need to make sure Joe Biden stays in the basement and Donald Trump stays in the White House,’’ he said.
If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the two top finishers will face each other in a January runoff. Collins predicted that he will end up competing with Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock. “Warnock will be there,’’ he said.
Loeffler and her husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, have a family fortune to splurge. She has been bombarding Collins for months with 30 million dollars worth of nasty ads that would have buried any other candidate long ago.
Collins was virtually absent from the airwaves until recently, but he is still a fierce competitor and could easily win if he gains more momentum.
The latest PPP poll released Saturday showed Raphael Warnock with a 17-point lead over the rest of the field at 41%, but Collins was holding steady at 22% to 24% for Loeffler.
“It all goes back to this idea of who’s authentic and who’s not,’’ said Collins, chalking up her lead to the hefty amount Loeffler has spent on the advertising war against him, compared to his paltry $1.5 million.
“We feel real good about where we’re at,’’ he said. “We’re going to be outspent. We know that.”
When he held the position of Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee in December 2019, Collins and his Republican colleagues proved to be formidable. They forcefully hammered Democrats in their phony attempt to impeach the president, which ended with his acquittal.
Collins made news when he stormed out of a heated hearing after a confrontation with California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell who was blaming Trump for the deaths of Ukrainians after he withheld military aid.
Swalwell introduced a newspaper article from the Los Angeles Times as a supporting document, but Collins pointed out exculpatory evidence in the article which noted there was no way to link the withheld aid and the deaths.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Collins has voted with Trump about 98% of the time since he became president. He only dissented on pulling troops out of Syria and lifting sanctions on three Russian companies.
Collins is opposed to restricting gun rights and supports Trump’s wall on the Mexican border. He has also voted to restrict abortion rights and supports Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump has remained neutral in the race.