Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday appointed business executive Kelly Loeffler to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, defying the calls of many -- including President Donald Trump -- for a more conservative candidate.
Kemp said Loeffler, 49, will be just the second Georgia woman in state history to serve in the U.S. Senate when she's sworn in after Isakson's departure on Dec. 31. She will have to run in a special election next year to keep the seat until 2022, when Isakson's original term expires.
The Georgia governor was under pressure from grassroots Republican groups to appoint a staunch supporter of Trump's, such as Rep. Doug Collins. Loeffler is a relative political unknown. Isakson said three months ago he decided to leave at the end of 2019 for health reasons.
Loeffler is a multimillionaire whose husband, Jeff Sprecher, is CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, the company that bought the New York Stock Exchange in 2012. She stepped down last year as a senior executive at company to form her own financial services firm, Bakkt. She is also co-owner of the Atlanta Dream WNBA franchise.
"Kelly Loeffler has lived the American Dream," Kemp said in a statement. "I'm confident that she will work every single day to keep that same dream alive for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
"Kelly Loeffler will stand with the president, [Georgia] Senator [David] Perdue and their allies in the U.S. House and Senate."
Loeffler emphasized her conservative credentials in her acceptance statement.
"Over the last twenty-five years, I've been building businesses, taking risks, and creating jobs," she said. "I haven't spent my life trying to get to Washington, but there are a few things folks are going to find out about me: I'm pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-Wall, and pro-Trump.
"I'm a life-long conservative, and I make no apologies for my conservative values."