Vice President Mike Pence official swore in Kelly Loeffler, a wealthy Republican donor and businesswoman, as Georgia's new U.S. senator on Monday. She is replacing former Sen. Johnny Isakson, 75, who resigned in December amid poor health. About 20 senators were present for the Senate ceremony, including one Democrat, Doug Jones (Ala.).
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) chose Loeffler over President Trump's favored candidate, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a move widely seen "as a bid to court suburban and female voters, many of whom have reacted to Trump's harsh rhetoric and hard-right policies by moving away from the GOP," The Associated Press reports. Facing criticism that she is too moderate, Loeffler toured Georgia on a "pro-Second Amendment, pro-Trump, pro-military, and pro-wall" platform before moving to Washington. She has pledged $20 million of her own fortune to win the seat in November.
Loeffler, 49, told AP after being sworn in that she has not spoken to Trump since her appointment was announced, adding that she is "going to work very hard" to "earn the trust and support of the president." Loeffler has already said she will not vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trial. "I don't think there was due process followed in the House proceeding," she told AP, providing no details. She is now the ninth female Republican in the Senate; 17 of the chamber's 47 Democrats are women.