GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Congressman Doug Collins turned aside a potential offer to join president Trump’s administration, Friday. The president suggested publicly Collins could become Director of National Intelligence.
Collins is running for the US Senate – and told 11Alive's Doug Richard's there’s no scenario that could get him to withdraw from the race.
A few days ago, President Trump hinted he could find a way to keep Collins and Senator Kelly Loeffler, both Republican Trump backers, from facing each other in this year’s election.
Why turn it down?
"Well it was never offered to me. That’s the first thing. And I think the real thing is, I’m in it to win the Senate race," Collins said during an interview in Gainesville.
The Director of National Intelligence reports directly to the president. Along with the CIA, it is one of two independent agencies in the US intelligence community – in addition to the intelligence functions of the military, the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies.
Collins says no federal job could dislodge him from the Senate race.
"There’s no scenario you can give me that I’m going to say, 'that’s the magic ticket.' Doug Collins is not in this for the magic ticket. Doug Collins is in this to be the best senator that Georgia has ever had," Collins said, referring to himself in the third person.
Collins wants to unseat Kelly Loeffler, the political newcomer appointed by Governor Kemp to fill the Senate seat of Johnny Isakson. She instantly became, like Collins, a vocal supporter of President Trump.
But don't expect Collins to give her any credit for that.
"I give her credit for reading talking points that she’s given," he said. "It’s amazing. Every position she’s moved toward is a position Doug Collins has already had."
Collins will run for the Senate in a nonpartisan special election commonly known as a jungle primary. The candidates may campaign as Democrats and Republicans, but the ballot won’t list them that way.
It means Collins will be on the same ballot as Republican Loeffler, plus Democrats Raphael Warnock, Ed Tarver, Matt Lieberman and others. If no candidate gets 50 percent plus one, there will be a January runoff between the top two vote-getters.
Asked if his his challenge to Loeffler helps the Democrats, Collins said, "There's going to be a runoff. There’s going to be one Republican and one Democrat, and we’re going to take that runoff and we’re going to win."
And Collins says he can beat Loeffler even if he doesn’t get public support from President Trump.
"We believe he’ll stay out of this race. That’s all up to the president of the United States," Collins said. "The president is a disciplined individual."
Sen. Loeffler declined comment.
Loeffler has collected endorsements in recent days from national figures like Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich and local officials allied with Governor Kemp.
Yet, Collins says he's the frontrunner because of his experience in congress.