Georgia Governor Brian Kemp rebuffed the wishes of President Trump on Wednesday — tapping an Atlanta businesswoman to fill Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-Ga.) seat when he retires at the end of the year.
The move was described as a betrayal by ardent Trump supporters after the president asked Kemp to appoint Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary committee, to fill the seat.
On Wednesday morning, Kemp confirmed the speculation that he would appoint Kelly Loeffler, an untested political candidate and GOP donor, in the hopes the Republican Party can claw back support from female voters, The Hill reported.
“Kelly is a patriot who believes in the greatness of America,” Kemp said, noting that Loeffler was Georgia’s first female senator in 100 years who supported Republican issues including strengthening immigration laws.
“She is a real conservative who will defend life against the radical left’s abortion-on-demand agenda, protect the Second Amendment, champion pro-growth policies, support our President, and put hardworking Georgians first,” he added.
But the decision was blasted by Trump supporters including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who said the decision was Kemp’s funeral.
Gaetz also repeatedly took aim at Kemp on Twitter, sharing Hannity’s criticism and claiming the Republican governor was working against Trump.
Isakson in August announced his retirement after 14 years in the Senate, citing his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease. His retirement sets up two elections for Key Senate seats in Georgia in 2020.
Kemp himself only narrowly triumphed over Democrat rival Stacey Abrams in one of the most highly contested gubernatorial races in the 2018 midterms.
Pro-life advocates also condemned the move, describing Loeffler as a “Planned Parenthood abortion activist.”
“You betrayed pro-life Republicans,” pro-life website LifeNews tweeted Tuesday.
Loeffler, a co-owner of WNBA team the Atlanta Dream, had donated over $1 million to Republican campaigns. Last year, the team donated a portion of ticket sales to Planned Parenthood.
Collins, an ardent support of Trump, on Wednesday blasted an impeachment inquiry in the president as a “simple railroad job.”