DALTON, Ga. — As her campaign ramps up with two months left until the November special election, appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia made a stop in Dalton on Monday to meet with voters and talk about the eight months under her belt as a new senator and her plans to stand beside President Donald Trump if elected to the seat.
Loeffler talked to a crowded dining room at Cherokee Brewing and Pizza, owned by Georgia Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, about introducing pro-Second Amendment legislation, advocating against Senate Democrats during Trump's impeachment hearings and being the business-minded senator she said Georgia needs at a time like this.
Along with Carpenter, Rep. Steve Tarvin, R-Chickamauga, and Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, helped introduce Loeffler to the crowd of about 40 who took seats at tables, drank local beer and occasionally glanced up at TV screens playing Harry Potter and Tom Cruise movies.
A crowd member Loeffler called out by name was Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who along with Loeffler was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to watch Trump officially accept the Republican nomination.
It didn't take more than two minutes for Loeffler to mention "how swiftly and violently the radical left would move to replace the American ideal with socialism."
"The Left is coming after the president nonstop. They're coming after me," Loeffler said. "They know that we don't owe anyone in Washington: the swamp, the fake news, the career politicians, we don't owe them anything. All we owe to the American people — Georgians — [is] our best to protect and defend the values that made this country great."
Loeffler said her business background will come in handy when balancing the federal government's budget and her strong conservative values will help keep Georgia red for at least the next decade to come.
Loeffler has been in the national spotlight several times since taking office, most recently for her remarks after the Atlanta Dream, the WNBA team she co-owns, decided to boycott a game in order to shed light on racial injustice.
Loeffler criticized the players at a recent rally for refusing to play. On Monday, she kept the focus on Black Lives Matter, an organization she called "a dangerous Marxist movement."
"There is no place in this country for racism, we have to root it out where it exists, but that's not what this organization is about," she said.
When it was announced the NBA and WNBA would use Black Lives Matter as an unofficial slogan for the restart of each of its seasons, Loeffler wrote a letter to the commissioner of the WNBA criticizing the move, saying that instead teams should wear an American flag patch on their jerseys.
"It's been suggested that I should lose my Senate seat, I should lose my business and not be a part of my own team. I think that's wrong," she said. "I've heard from thousands of people across the country saying thank you for speaking up because in this country, we have a freedom of expression. We should never be canceled for expressing our beliefs."
Loeffler, a Republicam, was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the final two years of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson's seat after Isakson stepped down in December due to health problems.
Loeffler's main opponent in November is U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican from Commerce, Georgia, who first won a U.S. House seat in 2012. Collins has also ramped up his campaign by traveling around the state, much like Loeffler has committed to do in the months leading up to November.
In the Loeffler and Collins showdown, all candidates for that Senate seat, regardless of political party, will compete in a nonpartisan primary. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will face off in a runoff election in January.
Loeffler did not mention Collins or any of her other opponents in the race but instead focused on beating the Democrats on the national level and advocated for local votes in Whitfield County.
"Please tell 500 of your closest friends," she said to laughter, "that no one's gonna outwork me to protect and defend our conservative values."
Contact Patrick Filbin at email@example.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.