Georgia’s United States Senate special election isn’t until Nov. 3, but the state’s junior incumbent is already making the campaign rounds — almost 10 months ahead of what is expected to be a …
Georgia’s United States Senate special election isn’t until Nov. 3, but the state’s junior incumbent is already making the campaign rounds — almost 10 months ahead of what is expected to be a raging free-for-all at the ballot box.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler made a stop at Doug’s Place in Emerson Thursday morning for a meet-and-greet with local diners. In an exclusive interview with The Daily Tribune News, she discussed her thoughts on a litany of hot-button issues, including potential gun control and health care legislation.
Front and center was the issue of economic development. Loeffler, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the vacancy created by Johnny Isakson’s resignation and officially sworn in on Jan. 6, said she’s taking a two-fold approach to the matter on both the state and national level.
“First of all, and most importantly for our state in Georgia, one of the key drivers of our effort has been making sure the economy stays strong and preserving all the work that’s underway by this Administration,” she said. “The President has done a great job of creating an environment where we can have job growth, and in terms of that job growth, we’re seeing record-low employment across all sectors of the economy — African-Americans, women, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans.”
Aiding that economic growth, she said, are significant investments in infrastructure. She brought up the proposed fiscal year 2021 federal budget, which includes a recommendation of almost $94 million for continued work on an expansion of the Port of Savannah.
She also brought up a major international investment in West Point.
“Kia is a great example of a manufacturing business that’s not only creating jobs in Georgia, but enabling other businesses to form up around it, other manufacturing businesses,” she said. “Kia employs 3,000, but as a result of Kia being in our state, we now have 13,000 people in the automotive industry and billions of dollars of investment.”
She also touched upon the issue of possible federal gun control legislation.
“I’m a strong Second Amendment supporter, I think the Constitution outlines Americans’ right to bear arms and we need to protect that,” Loeffler said. “I’ve signed on to several pieces of legislation to not only protect the Second Amendment right, but also protect due process for veterans and make sure that we’re advancing this across all areas where gun rights come into play.”
When it comes to health care, she said she believes programs like Medicaid and Medicare are worth protecting.
“What I’m focused on in regard to health care is making sure that it’s accessible and affordable,” she said. “And what we’re seeing right now is really a discussion — do we want to keep our employer-provided health care, the good benefits that we get under Medicare and Medicaid, or do we want to move to a single-payer, government health care program where you have Medicare-for-all?”
Loeffler said she believes the latter option would “tear apart” the nation’s health care delivery system.
“It would drive dramatic cost increases for taxpayers,” she said, “and we don’t know the quality of care, what that would look like.”
While the field of contenders is still shaping up, Loeffler is expected to face at least one longtime staple of Georgian politics at the Nov. 3 special election — fellow Republican Doug Collins, who has represented Georgia’s 9th congressional district since 2013. One other Republican — Dr. A. Wayne Johnson, who previously served as the COO for the Federal Student Aid office — has also declared his intentions to run in this fall’s special election.
At this juncture, declared Democratic candidates for Loeffler’s seat in the Senate include former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, Ebenezer Baptist Church Senior Pastor The Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock and Matt Lieberman, the son of one-time vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman.
Pending House Bill 757, sponsored by District 121 State Rep. Barry Fleming (R, Harlem), isn’t signed into law this year, there will be no partisan primaries for Georgia’s upcoming U.S. Senate special election. Rather, all of the candidates — Republican, Democrat and independent — will battle it out on a single ballot in what has been dubbed a “jungle primary.”
Assuming no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters are destined for a run-off election, which would take place on Jan. 5, 2021.
As the co-owner of a Women’s National Basketball Association franchise and the former CEO of a multi-billion-dollar financial and commodity exchange subsidiary, Loeffler said she comes into Washington politics as an outsider.
Albeit, an outsider accustom to setting a budget — “then meeting that budget, or even coming in under the budget,” she said.
As evident by the ever-swelling national debt, such thinking appears to be antithetical to business as usual on Capitol Hill. And that's a mentality, Loeffler said, that she'd like to see change in D.C.
“We need to be fiscally responsible,” she said. “If we’re not, this could result in future generations bearing this burden that we’ve created.”