Despite the partisan backlash, Gov. Brian Kemp plans to officially announce the appointment of businesswoman Kelly Loeffler as his U.S. Senate pick on Wednesday.
Loeffler, the CEO of a financial asset company and part-owner of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, will take Sen. Johnny Isakson's seat at the U.S. Capitol, according to multiple reports.
Isakson announced his retirement in August after the onset of several health issues. Kemp made an open call for applications shortly after. About 500 Georgians applied for the position.
Kemp’s favorite, Loeffler is a first-time political candidate. She has been a longtime ally of Georgia’s political party and a strong supporter of Kemp’s predecessor, former Gov. Nathan Deal.
Kemp has been criticized for his selection both in public and private by other Republicans.
His decision reportedly caused a rift between himself and President Donald Trump.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a meeting on Nov. 24 between Kemp, Loeffler and the president was cut short because of a squabble over the decision.
Trump reportedly wants Kemp to tap his close ally, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins.
Kemp’s office has not denied or confirmed the reports but said on Twitter last week that he “could care less what the political establishment thinks."
J.B. Poersch, president of the Senate Majority PAC, said Monday that the move further divides the Republican Party.
“Gov. Kemp’s anticipated appointment of Kelly Loeffler has already backfired and the chaos surrounding his controversial pick could easily cost Republicans this seat in 2020,” Poersch said.
“Republicans will have a tough time holding this open seat when their party is bitterly divided and already sounding the alarm that Loeffler is the wrong pick for Georgia. While Loeffler may have all the money in the world to buy a Senate seat, she will have plenty of explaining to do to earn the trust of Georgia voters, starting with members of her own party.”
Isakson will give his farewell speech at 2:30 p.m on Tuesday. Kemp’s announcement is scheduled for 10 a.m. the following day.
Kemp’s pick will occupy the seat until a special election in November 2020.