Doug Collins considering Georgia Senate run against Warnock in 2022
Former Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia is mulling a Republican challenge in 2022 against newly elected Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in what could be one of the most high-profile Senate races in next year’s midterm elections.
A Republican source close to Collins’ orbit tells Fox News that the former congressman “is giving serious consideration to running for Senate in 2022 against Raphael Warnock.” A separate source with knowledge of Collins’ plans says, “I think that’s where his head is right now.”
Both sources say that any announcement from Collins on a Senate run would likely have to come by early April “at the latest.”
The 2022 race in Georgia is one of a handful that could decide whether the GOP wins back the majority in the chamber that it lost last month in the state’s twin Senate runoff elections.
Collins, a conservative lawmaker and strong ally of former President Donald Trump, was first elected to the House in 2012 and served eight years representing Georgia’s 9th Congressional District in the northeast corner of the state. Instead of running for reelection last year, he launched a campaign in the special Senate election to fill the remaining two years of the term of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Collins grabbed 20% of the vote in the 20-candidate field, coming in third behind Warnock (33%) and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (26%) in November’s special election. Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate a year earlier by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, had the backing of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is the reelection arm of Senate Republicans.
Warnock narrowly edged Loeffler in the Jan. 5 Senate runoff election. His victory, along with Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff’s razor-thin win over Republican Sen. David Perdue in a separate runoff election on the same day, gave the Democrats the majority in the Senate for the first time in six years.
If he decides to run, Collins would come into the 2022 cycle with much of the groundwork needed to run a statewide campaign already in place.
“Since he just did come off of a race, he has infrastructure, both fundraising infrastructure and grassroots infrastructure that exists that wouldn’t need to get started from scratch. Those are two things that he could build off of if he decides to run,” one of the sources told Fox News.
And Collins, if he ran, would likely grab the support of Trump, who remains popular and influential among Republican voters. Trump, while repeatedly taking aim at Kemp the past couple of months for refusing to overturn President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia over Trump, has threatened to support a primary challenge against the GOP governor when he’s up for reelection in 2022. Trump urged Collins to challenge Kemp.
Though Collins is leaning toward a Senate run rather than a gubernatorial challenge against Kemp, he would still likely win the support of the former president and his devoted followers, who are a potent force in Georgia, a once solidly red state that has turned purple in recent years.
The Senate is split 50-50 between the two parties, but the Democrats control the chamber due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. That means Republicans only have to flip one seat in 2022 to regain the majority they lost in the 2020 elections.
But the GOP is defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs next year. The difficult map isn’t the only obstacle facing the Republicans. They’re also defending open seats in two crucial battleground states due to retirements. Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard Burr of North Carolina are not running for reelection. And two-term Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced last week that he’ll retire from the Senate rather than run for reelection in 2022.
There’s also a potential headache in Iowa, where 87-year-old GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley is staying mum so far on whether he will run for an eighth six-year term in the Senate. In the battleground state of Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson hasn’t said if he’ll run for a third term.
But Republicans see pickup opportunities in the key battlegrounds of Georgia and Arizona, where Democrat Mark Kelly, like Warnock, won a special election to serve two years in the Senate and is up for reelection in 2022. The GOP also sees possible pickups in Nevada and New Hampshire, where first-term Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Maggie Hassan are running for reelection in competitive states.