ATLANTA (AP) — A wealthy Republican businesswoman set to be sworn in as Georgia’s next U.S. senator will enter the chamber with a unique distinction: Her first vote could be on whether to remove the president.
Kelly Loeffler is scheduled to be sworn in at 5 p.m. Monday during a short ceremony on the Senate floor in Washington.
Her first vote as a senator could come at the conclusion of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and Loeffler says she plans to vote against removing the president.
Loeffler was criticized by Trump allies as too moderate and inexperienced when her appointment was announced in December, but she has spent the past several weeks travelling Georgia and trying to win over conservatives with a “pro-Second Amendment, pro-Trump, pro-military and pro-wall” message.
Speaking to reporters last week in Savannah, she said she intends to vote “no” on removing Trump from office.
“I don’t think there was due process followed in the House proceeding, so it would be very difficult to understand how that would not be the conclusion," Loeffler said. “So yes, I would support a ‘no’ vote on impeachment.” She did not say how she believed the House failed to follow due process.
Loeffler will be just the second woman in history to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.
She will have to defend the seat in an open election in November that won’t be preceded by the normal party primaries, meaning she could face a challenge from within her own party as well as from Democrats.
Also on Georgia’s ballot in November will be Republican Sen. David Perdue, who is seeking reelection. Having both of Georgia’s GOP-controlled Senate seats up for grabs this year has raised the state’s profile as a political battleground where Republicans still dominate but Democrats are looking for an upset.
Loeffler has pledged to spend $20 million of her own money, spokesman Ryan Mahoney confirmed, on what will be her first political campaign.
Loeffler was appointed by Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to replace three-term GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down in December because of health issues.
She previously served as an executive at Intercontinental Exchange, a behemoth founded by her husband that owns the New York Stock Exchange. When Kemp chose her for the Senate vacancy, Loeffler was CEO of Bakkt, an Intercontinental Exchange subsidiary that offers a regulated market for bitcoin.