ATLANTA — The 2020 U.S. Senate election got real Monday at the capitol as at least four candidates officially signed up for the race. They included Georgia’s two U.S. Senators – both of whom will face voters this year.
Sen. David Perdue’s re-election effort seemed all-but eclipsed by the selection of Republican donor Kelly Loeffler to fill Georgia’s other U.S. Senate seat. She quickly got a challenge by Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville.
"Today begins a new day. I say bring it on. You can spend your millions but we’re gonna have debates," Collins said, referring to Loeffler. "In fact, let’s have a lot of debates. Let’s have it all over the state, because ideas matter."
The millions are in Loeffler’s personal fortune, which is helping finance her campaign. After she and Collins officially qualified to run, she described the money as an investment.
"I’m investing in this race because you cannot put a price on freedom. I am running to win. And I will work so hard to earn every single vote that I get," Loeffler said in a brief appearance alongside Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed her to fill the seat of Johnny Isakson.
Rep. Collins was in one part of the Capitol complex while Sen. Loeffler was in another – apparently avoiding a face to face encounter in a building even more crowded than usual with Georgia politicians.
Today was the first day that political candidates can fill out paperwork to get on this year’s ballot.
Members of Congress like Republicans Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk – and Democrats Lucy McBath and John Lewis were among the faces in the crowd.
Sen. Perdue was surrounded by supporters, talking up his disdain for the Democrats running to take his seat.
"Right now, we have people who are going to run for the senate in this state who want to espouse the things at the presidential level right now that would absolutely destroy what we’ve built here in Georgia," Perdue said.
Former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson is among the Democrats angling for Perdue’s seat.
She says the crush of candidates, and the two parallel US Senate races, makes it "very confusing for the voters out there. Even voters who are uber voters or super voters, the ones who show up no matter what... people are thoroughly confused."
Democratic voters will make their choice to face Perdue May 19th – just two and a half months from now.
The race including Loeffler and Collins will be on a special election ballot in November.