How 1 lawmaker is exposing the contradiction at the heart of Trump's GOP
Posted January 29, 2020 2:22 p.m. EST
CNN — Rep. Doug Collins is exactly the sort of Republican that Donald Trump loves. The Georgia congressman is an unapologetic defender of the President, a willing participant in partisan battles with Democrats in Washington and a regular on Fox News.
But when Collins announced Wednesday morning that he was running for the Senate seat vacated by the resignation of former Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson late last year, the Senate Republican campaign arm came out swinging against him.
"The shortsightedness in this decision is stunning. Doug Collins' selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump," National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Kevin McLaughlin said. "Not to mention the people of Georgia who stand to bear the burden of it for years to come. All he has done is put two Senate seats, multiple House seats, and Georgia's 16 electoral votes in play."
Whoa boy! So Collins deciding to run in the all-party primary on November 3 against appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler endangers not only Loeffler, which makes sense, but also fellow Sen. David Perdue, Gov. Brian Kemp and Trump!
Collins, as you might expect, didn't let McLaughlin's shot go unanswered.
"Don't be ridiculous, this is FAKE NEWS coming from the head of a Washington-based group whose bylaws require him to support all incumbents, even unelected ones," Collins tweeted.
(Nota bene: Collins is right that the NRSC is an incumbent-retention operation and, as such, supports all incumbents.)
Now. The National Republican Senatorial Committee isn't Trump. But Trump himself also seems to be on board with the Loeffler candidacy now, despite having previously lobbied Kemp hard to pick Collins.
"Congratulations, Kelly," Trump said to Loeffler at a signing ceremony for the USMCA trade deal at the White House on Wednesday morning. "They really like you a lot. That's what the word is."
The negative reaction to Collins is all the more striking because Loeffler until very recently wasn't exactly a Trump-ist. She and her husband contributed heavily to now-Trump critic Mitt Romney's super PAC during the 2012 campaign and donated to other so-called "establishment" Republicans like former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Loeffler, clearly aware of that background, is working hard to get on Trump's good side -- attacking Romney earlier this week for his seeming support for witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial.
The contradiction in all of this is clear: Trump is in the White House because he ran openly against the GOP establishment and its candidates in the 2016 campaign. And yet, the Republican Party he now leads is fighting tooth and nail to keep an ardent Trump ally from running for the Senate against a relatively new convert to the President's cause.
Trump's hostile takeover of the Republican Party left all sorts of these contradictions dangling out in the political atmosphere. Collins' decision to run --- and the reaction from the Republican Party infrastructure to that decision -- brings one of the biggest contradictions into the national spotlight.
And that contradiction is this: What happens when a total outsider to the party processes -- who is proud of it -- suddenly becomes the ultimate insider?