Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) is in a tight race to keep her current seat, one that came gift wrapped to her shortly before Christmas last year from Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) after Johnny Isakson retired for health reasons. She is running in a jungle primary this November with some 20 or so candidates, mostly from both major political parties. Her strongest opponent is fellow Republican, Congressman Doug Collins.
Collins is every bit as far right as Loeffler, and the two are trying to outdo each other as to who has Donald Trump’s favor, who is more sycophantic, more obsequious to the president in the belief that Trump’s name still has cachet with the voters. We will know in a little more than two months if their desperation is a curse or a blessing, if their faith in the president was justified or misplaced. If either of them win, it may turn out to be the curse of the Greek gods about being careful of what you wish for.
What made Loeffler such an attractive choice for Governor Kemp is her deep pockets considering she has no political experience. She is reputed to be the wealthiest member of the Senate. Whoever wins the November special election has to run again in 2022, the year Isakson’s term would have ended. Kemp will also be running for reelection in 2022, and some political pundits think he chose Loeffler because she has committed to spending over $20 million of her own money to keep the seat. By doing this she would not be competing with Kemp for contributions from big name donors.
Collins has a lot of Republican and conservative support, and he is a very serious competitor and threat to Loeffler. Unlike Loeffler, he’s from Georgia, went to college and law school in the state, and has the accent to prove that he’s a good ole boy. Problem is that while money doesn’t always trump other factors, it goes a long way to making you a serious candidate. And Loeffler is spending money like Republicans do when they are in power.
Loeffler has assured the people of Georgia that she will always protect their Second Amendment rights to possess firearms, that she will stand in harm’s way against Democrats, liberals, and other “subversives” who might try to confiscate their guns. It’s a great way to get gun owners worked up despite the Supreme Court over the past fourteen years issuing opinions that provide more constitutional protections to the individual right to bear arms. Collins loves his guns, too; he just can’t keep up with Loeffler’s ads to prove it.
But probably the low point in Loeffler’s campaign against Collins is going after him because he was a criminal lawyer. Imagine that! Collins actually represented people charged with crimes such as drug trafficking, assault, and gang activity in his home town of Gainesville. His clients may not be high on anyone’s sympathy list of good citizens, but they do have a constitutional right to a lawyer to represent them at the various stages of the criminal process. Considering that Collins’ name in legal circles is not exactly well known among both criminals and attorneys, that he never represented any high profile cases in Atlanta or the state, and in all likelihood took on mostly indigent cases of garden variety crimes, that most of these cases resulted in guilty pleas, it’s not like the city of Gainesville and its surroundings is going to be overrun by criminals that Loeffler accuses Collins of setting free.
Anyone buying into Loeffler’s self-proclaimed portrayal of her being the law and order candidate, that Collins’ record suggests he is soft on crime, is hopelessly gullible and could end up with this seat-warming senator for years to come, a woman who professes that she will defend the Constitution all the while manifesting an ignorance of it that should be embarrassing to her. She says she supports the Constitution, but her support is not unlike that of many professed Christians who have written off the Ninth Commandment if social media is an indication as judged by memes, comments, and videos that bear no resemblance to the truth that can be easily verified.
Of course, there is much more to this mean-spirited campaign, with neither going high when the other goes low. They are competing to see who will bottom out first. But in this instance Collins deserves the benefit of being the object of an unfair attack on doing nothing more than carrying out his constitutional obligation as a lawyer, certainly not getting rich doing it, and fulfilling the right of all Americans, whether they can afford to pay for counsel or not, to have one when facing the vast resources of the state.
Campaign decency probably never existed going back to our nation’s founding. Race and religion were used against opponents, and when used today, it is done with a subtlety. While we have evolved for the better in so many ways since the Constitution was ratified, we are still in the dark ages in demonstrating respect, honesty, and civility when running for office. I recall the first time I saw the word guttersnipe. It was about 65 years ago in a political ad in the Staten Island Advance. A candidate called the incumbent borough president this denigrating pejorative.
That said, perhaps that word still has application where the lyrics to the Limbo still resonate, “How low can you go?” This campaign may answer that question.