Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to the Senate on Wednesday, amid widespread skepticism from pro-life and social conservative groups.
Ms. Loeffler will replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of the month. She has never held elective office, but is a political donor, co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, and CEO of Bakkt.
“I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington,” Ms. Loeffler said Wednesday at a ceremony with Mr. Kemp announcing her appointment. “So here’s what folks are gonna find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment, pro-Trump, pro-military and pro-wall. I make no apologies for my conservative values, and I look forward to supporting President Trump’s conservative judges.”
Ms. Loeffler’s nomination was met with opposition from influential pro-life groups such as Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council Action, Susan B. Anthony List and March for Life Action.
Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance previously said her group’s opposition revolved around how Ms. Loeffler would address judicial nominations processed by the Senate and told The Washington Times she did not have “confidence” that Ms. Loeffler would be reliably pro-life.
Ms. Loeffler aimed to address those concerns in her remarks Wednesday.
“I am strongly pro-life,” Ms. Loeffler said. “The abortion-on-demand agenda is immoral. In the Senate, I look forward to supporting S. 160, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s 20-week abortion ban. And when it comes to protecting innocent life, I look to God because every life is a blessing.”
Since word spread that Mr. Kemp would select Ms. Loeffler this week, the pro-life groups rankled by her appointment have grown far quieter.
A Georgia arm of the social conservative group Focus on the Family was quick to praise Ms. Loeffler’s selection. Family Policy Alliance President Cole Muzio wrote Wednesday that Ms. Loeffler’s selection was a “win for Georgia conservatives.”
“If your goal is to ‘Drain the Swamp,’ Kelly Loeffler is the only candidate who fits that description,” Mr. Muzio wrote for The Resurgent on Wednesday ahead of Ms. Loeffler’s selection. “Beyond her ‘outsider status,’ Kelly Loeffler is unapologetically pro-life. … A woman of devout faith, she has pledged to protect all life from conception to natural death — and stand firm against the left’s abortion on-demand agenda.”
Ms. Loeffler also has the support of establishment Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group aligned with Mr. McConnell.
When Ms. Loeffler joins the Senate next month, she will not only be working to win converts from the ranks of conservatives but also will begin campaigning for a special election in November 2020. Matt Lieberman, son of former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, has announced his intention to run for the seat as a Democrat.
The Senate Majority PAC, which aims to flip control of the Senate to Democrats, began fundraising against Ms. Loeffler on Tuesday, before her selection was formally announced.