Governors tend to be lousy judges of political talent, at least with respect to appointed senators.
Since World War II, almost 50 senators have been appointed by governors. By my count, about 32 of those subsequently ran to complete the term for which they were appointed or for a full term of their own. Even with all the advantages of incumbency, just 19 of those have won. That’s a success rate of about 60% — not bad, until you consider that the reelection rate for incumbent senators in the post-war era is nearly 85%.
In this cycle, there are two appointed senators running for office — Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona and Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia.
Ms. McSally lost a winnable race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in 2018. Her reward was to be appointed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to fill the remainder of the term of the late Sen. John McCain. She, unfortunately, appears to be on her way to being the first person ever to lose a general election once as a nominated candidate and once as an appointed candidate in two consecutive cycles.
It is not a happy record, and it is one of which Mr. Ducey should be embarrassed.
In Georgia, Ms. Loeffler was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last December to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson.
She is running to fill the remainder of Mr. Isakson’s term in a jungle primary. That is a primary in which, if no one receives a majority of the vote, the top two finishers proceed to a run-off. In this cycle, the run-off is scheduled for Jan. 5, and it may be crucial to determining which party will preside over the U.S. Senate.
Other contestants in the election include two Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Doug Collins.
It is not clear why Mr. Kemp selected Ms. Loeffler. The unappetizing portions of her political resume include:
• In 2018, the WNBA team owned by Ms. Loeffler held a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood at one of its games, raising enough money to fund as many as 1,400 abortions. The Atlanta Dream’s website still has the original release posted, which, according to the Washington Post, Ms. Loeffler likely “took the lead” in drafting.
• The team also partnered with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety initiative.
• In the category of “please stop,” Ms. Loeffler filmed a television ad in a camouflage shirt and orange vest, presumably posing as a hunter, even though she has no hunting license.
• Ms. Loeffler has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, and Georgia Rep. David Scott.
• While she and her husband managed to find a million dollars to give to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, they donated exactly zero dollars to President Trump in 2016.
It is fairly well-known and well-documented that Mr. Collins was Mr. Trump’s preferred pick to fill this seat. In fact, Mr. Trump privately lobbied Mr. Kemp on at least three separate occasions to appoint Mr. Collins.
For his part, Mr. Collins is a steady, reliable, durably and consistently conservative politician. He is a pastor at his church, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve for 19 years who had a combat tour in Iraq. A senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, he was one of Mr. Trump’s most dependable and competent defenders during the impeachment process.
Mr. Collins has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Conservative Union, and perfect ratings from every pro-life group.
In Georgia, the governor made a mistake. In Arizona, the governor made a mistake. That’s OK, people make mistakes every day.
The good news is that – at least in Georgia – the voters have a chance to correct the mistake by electing someone who represents the values they embrace.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
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