Now that he’s decided to run for the U.S. Senate this year, Rep. Doug Collins will have to step down as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
The committee put a rule in place this session that if either the chairman or the ranking member decides to seek another office, that person must step down from the leadership position.
“We put that rule in place after the last election because we had a lot of members leave and a lot of members run for other offices,” Collins said Friday during an appearance on WDUN’s “Morning Talk with Martha Zoller.” “You still maintain your membership on the committee, but this give you better time to focus on the election you’re running in and still be able to give time to your committee work.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, will replace Collins as the ranking member. Collins will remain a member of the committee.
Either way, Collins’ time of the Judiciary Committee is limited. His decision to challenge Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a special election in November to fill the rest of Johnny Isakson’s term means he will be leaving the U.S. House at the end of the year.
Loeffler was appointed to the seat in December by Gov. Brian Kemp. The Rev. Raphael Warnock and two other Democrats are also running in the open primary, which means all candidates for all parties run in the same election. A runoff, if needed, would be in January.
Collins said stepping down as ranking member is the first step toward transitioning to campaign mode.
“We’re looking forward to being in Georgia, being all over Georgia taking the same things we’ve been fighting for us here,” Collins said. “We’ll take the same conservative message we’ve had as we take a run at the state of Georgia.”
On Thursday, Collins was one of several lawmakers and others, including Loeffler, recognized by President Donald Trump during his post-acquittal speech at the White House.
“It was very good to be in that room with all of those folks who have fought hard for this president,” Collins said. “Being part of the president’s team has been very good.”
Responding to criticism that the president’s remarks were mean and vindictive, Collins said people have had four years to learn that this is just how Trump operates.
“Yesterday was him being him,” Collins said. “He fights back. He doesn’t hold back.”
A matchup between Collins and Loeffler could be messy, some political experts believe. It is also dividing Georgia lawmakers into pro-Collins and pro-Loeffler camps. But Trump, in his remarks at the White House, hinted at a compromise.
During his introduction of Collins, Trump called him “an unbelievable friend.” And he said to Loeffler, “I know, Kelly, that you’re going to end up liking him a lot.”
Then he added, “Something’s going to happen that’s going to be very good. I don’t know; I haven’t figured it out yet.”
The comments led some GOP insiders to float the idea that either Collins or Loeffler could be in line for an appointment to a prominent position by the president.