The upcoming special election for a Georgia U.S. Senate seat continues to make headlines, both here and across the country.

If nothing else, it shows how much of a prized possession a U.S. Senate seat can be. Similar to being a head coach in the NFL, there are only so many spots available. This political football has involved numerous powerful politicians in Georgia. President Trump has also been involved.

As most know, Johnny Isakson, who represented our state for decades with class and character, decided to step down due to health reasons. That left an unexpired term to fill.

In Georgia, vacancies of this nature are not decided by the people, but by the governor. Dozens of people “applied” for the job. Trump publically recommended Congressman Doug Collins, who has served as a strong ally in Washington for the president.

Gov. Brian Kemp, probably underestimating the amount of backfire a non-Collins choice would cause, selected political novice Kelly Loeffler. While Kemp probably had numerous reasons for his choice, there is no doubting one reason was to spark support among conservative women in the state with this being an election year.

Collins, who did not publically campaign for the appointment, clearly was not happy that he was bypassed for Loeffler. In the weeks following Loeffler’s appointment by the governor, Collins announced he would seek the seat this November.

Typically, this would have simply meant a primary between two powerful candidates in Loeffler and Collins. Loeffler has the power of being the incumbent even though her name has never been before the voters of Georgia or anywhere else.

Collins, meanwhile, has been elected several times and was a popular congressman in his district. The congressman has never been elected statewide, however.

Many inside Republican circles don’t like challenges from within the party. Several years ago when a candidate in Georgia dared to challenge a Republican governor, the state party would not even acknowledge the challenger.

We are seeing that same reaction in many GOP circles and not just from the state party. Some are saying that Collins should not challenge Loeffler. One reason is the setup of this election in November.

It is a “jungle primary,” where all candidates from all parties are listed on the ballot at one time. There will not be a Democratic and Republican primary. The ballot will likely have not only Loeffler and Collins, but other Republicans as well. Several Democrats have also announced, along with a Libertarian and an independent.

This type of election actually allows all candidates a fair chance. Those outside the two-headed monster don’t have to collect thousands of signatures in order to be on the ballot.

Collins has every right to run against Loeffler. In her first weeks on the job, she has done little more than rubber stamp various Republican issues. She then has made several television commercials about that.

Those accomplishments are weak, however. No one would have expected her to vote any other way. To try and use those votes as accomplishments as a U.S. senator is similar to anyone else saying, “I showed up for work today” and then bragging that it entitled them to a pay raise or a right to stay on the job.

There was some talk of passing a new law to change this special election from a jungle primary to a regular one where a primary would be held. Some Republicans fear a split vote could result in a Democrat taking the seat. Regardless of who wanted it altered and for what reason, the law should not be changed prior to this vote. All candidates knew this special election would be decided in a different way.

There is another U.S. Senate seat before Georgia voters and that will have a primary. If candidates wanted to compete in a primary, then they can still qualify for the seat currently occupied by David Perdue.

This race is certainly going to be worth watching. It should be noted that state Democratic leaders are also hoping to clear a path for their preferred candidate. Others have been encouraged to drop out. Those being encouraged to step aside have said they have no intention of doing so.

Frankly, seats as important as ones in the U.S. Senate should be decided by the voters of the state involved. I’m not really concerned with who the president wants in the position or who the governor wants. Let the people of Georgia decide. That’s how U.S. senators should be chosen.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor for the Barrow News-Journal. You can email comments about this column to pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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