Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler has been working overtime to win over skeptical conservatives and pro-lifers who were hostile to her appointment, hustling to build support to hold onto the Senate seat in the November special election.
As criticism mounted last month about her appointment to fill the seat of fellow Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired for health reasons, Ms. Loeffler worked the phones and met privately with some of her most vocal critics who said her unclear record on abortion should disqualify her.
“There was a lot of misplaced information out there at first. Face-to-face conversations can go a long way,” Ms. Loeffler told The Washington Times. “Last month, for example, I sat down with Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List. Like Marjorie, Georgians can rest assured knowing my pro-life record will be reflected in my work in the Senate.”
In her first week in the Senate, Ms. Loeffler worked to build that conservative record and develop a relationship with Mr. Trump, who reportedly preferred Rep. Doug Collins for the seat.
Ms. Loeffler’s first actions as a Georgia senator included applauding Mr. Trump’s killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani via a drone strike, co-sponsoring Sen. Josh Hawley’s resolution dismissing impeachment, and voting to confirm Jovita Carranza as the new head of the Small Business Administration.
As Ms. Loeffler aims to win the support of Mr. Trump and Georgia voters, she is beginning a process she is going to have to repeat several times in the next few years.
If Ms. Loeffler does not win a majority of votes in November’s jungle special election, a run-off would be held in 2021, which would be followed by another vote in 2022.
She has made strides winning over her critics.
Ms. Dannenfelser opposed Ms. Loeffler’s appointment because of her work on the board of a hospital that formerly conducted abortions. But she was swayed after a meeting in which Ms. Loeffler vowed to take up the pro-life mantle and oppose abortion as immoral.
SBA List has not decided whether to mobilize its activists to help get Ms. Loeffler elected in November, but Ms. Dannenfelser said she is supportive of Ms. Loeffler.
“I do know one thing: She is a very attractive, savvy, Southern, pro-life woman,” Ms. Dannenfelser said in an interview. “There are some people who are a man’s woman or a woman’s woman, I think she’s both. She’s a Georgia woman and she knows how to handle herself — I can say that as a Southern woman.”
March for Life Action President Tom McClusky said in December it would be “hugely disappointing” and a “huge setback” if Ms. Loeffler were appointed. On Thursday, Mr. McClusky said that he was “impressed” after meeting Ms. Loeffler and “optimistic” that she will be pro-life in the Senate.
Concerned Women for America labeled Ms. Loeffler the “wrong choice for Georgia” in November. CWA president Penny Nance now says she is “cautiously optimistic” about Ms. Loeffler.
The conservatives and pro-life advocates’ embrace of Ms. Loeffler came after she called 159 Georgia Republican Party leaders and has made time to meet with influential activists, said a Georgia Republican strategist who has worked with her.
Some lingering doubt remains on the right, however.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said he is not sold on Ms. Loeffler but noted that “the door is open for her to begin working with conservatives to build a conservative record.”