Nikki Haley Throws Her Support Behind Kelly Loeffler In Georgia Senate Race
Updated at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday
Supporters of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler say her candidacy brings a new perspective to Washington, and a new dimension to a Georgia Republican party looking for votes in Atlanta’s suburbs. That was a theme of her Monday rally with former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Before several hundred people at the Cobb County Republican Party headquarters, Haley quoted a conservative politician she admires: Margaret Thatcher.
“And you know one of the things she would always say? ‘If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman,’” Haley said.
“I think conservative women have proven to be a strong force to be reckoned with on the local level, on the state level and on the federal level.”
Loeffler campaign events like this are new to Georgia politics. She is the first Republican woman to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.
“Your endorsement of my campaign means so much to me personally,” Loeffler said to Haley at the event. “As someone who has done similar things, broken barriers, worked in business, tried to solve problems, lived the American dream.”
According to Haley, it’s going to become more and more common: “And I think Kelly Loeffler is a perfect example of we’re seeing more Republican strong women run than ever before,” she said.
“And you’re going to see a wave of people want to support them and help get them elected.”
Loeffler’s most prominent Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins wasn’t mentioned by name, but his campaign weighed on many in the crowd, worried about the risk of a split ticket.
Collins has said Gov. Brian Kemp–who appointed Loeffler in December–is the only person who voted for her.
“Now it’s time for the rest of Georgia to have that same vote,” he said in a recent interview.
He and his attack ads have targeted Loeffler for only recently beginning to support President Donald Trump and for calling herself an outsider despite many past political contributions.
“And what we have seen over time and what the polling shows that if she was left to be the only candidate, there’s a real chance she could lose to the Democratic candidate. So that’s why we’re in this race,” he said.
Nicole Rodden is a Republican who recently dropped out of the 6th Congressional District race and is now working for a public relations firm. She thinks Loeffler is what Georgia Republicans need.
“Her messaging and Doug Collins messaging–they’re very similar,” she said. “They’re obviously both pro-president, pro-life, pro-second amendment. But I think, too, we need to look at who the messenger is, and that’s what’s going to make the biggest difference.”
Especially, she said, to pick up moderate Republicans who might have voted Democratic last cycle.
“We have to be able to recognize where our strengths and weaknesses are, and Kelly, I think, really fits the role of what we need right now,” Rodden said.
But Loeffler is also arguably a different kind of messenger than President Trump, whom she’s pledged to support.
And that can work, according to Haley, a Trump appointee and ally.
“What we’ve told people is, any women who may not like the president’s style, well the president’s style is not Kelly’s style,” she said. “But at the end of the day, they both agree on the same results.”
“What I think Kelly Loeffler does is bridge the gap between good old southern sweet tea women and the [New York City] street fighter of Donald Trump,” said conservative communications consultant Susan Meyers.
“She’s the one that can bridge the gap and bring voters along for the Republican Party in Georgia.”
Twenty people have qualified to run against Loeffler in November. It’s a special free-for-all election without party primaries.