President Donald Trump, while rallying support for the Georgia Senate runoff elections, on Saturday suggested that GOP Rep. Doug Collins should launch a gubernatorial bid in 2022, which would set up a Republican primary challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp.
While headlining a raucous rally in support of Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, Trump pointed out Collins in the crowd, praising his Senate run this year.
"He and Kelly had a great primary, a very strong primary," Trump said. "They both did fantastically well, and he is on board and he is one of the greatest advocates I've ever met in Washington."
Trump added: "I want to thank Doug Collins. Thank you, Doug. What a job he does."
The president then animated the crowd by floating a potential Collins primary challenge to Kemp, who will likely run for reelection as governor in 2022. He was first elected in 2018, narrowly defeating former Georgia Democratic House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.
"Doug, you want to run for governor in two years?" Trump said, with a smile on his face. "He'd be a good-looking governor."
—Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) December 6, 2020
Collins, one of Trump's staunchest allies on Capitol Hill, ran in the November special Senate election, coming in third place behind Democrat Raphael Warnock and Loeffler. Since neither Warnock or Loeffler secured at least 50 percent of the vote, they will both advance to the January 5 runoff election.
Due to his Senate run, Collins did not run for reelection to the House of Representatives and will vacate his seat in January 2021.
Kemp was unable to attend the rally due to the death of Harrison Deal, a 20-year-old campaign staffer for Loeffler and family friend of the governor. Cody Hall, Kemp's spokesman, told The Hill that Trump reached out to the governor on Saturday to send his condolences.
The governor, a reliable Trump ally, has fell out of favor with the president in recent days.
Trump has criticized the voting process in Georgia, claiming there was mass voter fraud with vote counting and with voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems, part of his litany of debunked election fraud claims.
On Fox News last week, Trump said that he was "ashamed" to have endorsed Kemp in 2018.
On December 5, Trump called Kemp to persuade him to initiate a special legislative session that would overturn the election results and install pro-Trump electors for the Electoral College, according to a Washington Post report.
Kemp has declined to call a special session.
President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes by a little over 12,000 votes, ending a decadeslong streak of victories for GOP presidential nominees.
Trump's engagement in the Georgia runoff elections have major ramifications in Washington.
Perdue, who also received less than 50 percent of the vote in the November election, will face Democrat Jon Ossoff next month.
If Republicans can win one or both races, they will maintain control of the Senate. However, if Democrats win both races, they will create a 50-50 split in the upper chamber, giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris a tie-breaking vote and thus majority control.