Closing The Gap

Kelly Loeffler sworn in as Georgia's new senator, increasing the number of women in the Senate to a record 26

US Vice President Mike Pence (R) conducts the ceremonial swearing-in of US Senator Kelly Loeffler (L), R-GA, as her husband husband Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of Intercontinental Exchange and Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange looks on, in the Old Senate of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2019.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

On Jan. 6, Republican businesswoman Kelly Loeffler was sworn in as Georgia's newest senator, bringing the number of women in the Senate from 25 to a record 26.

Loeffler, who is the former CEO of financial services firm Bakkt, was appointed by state governor Brian Kemp to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired at the end of 2019 due to health concerns.

As a political newcomer, Loeffler, 49, has faced a lot of criticism from conservatives for being too moderate and inexperienced for the role. President Donald Trump even tried to pressure Kemp to appoint Georgia Rep. Doug Collins to the seat instead. Collins, a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, has been vocal about his support of defending Trump against impeachment, reports CNN.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., waits for Vice President Mike Pence to arrive for her swear-in reenactment for the cameras in the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Loeffler, who is co-owner of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream team, has also said that she will vote against removing Trump from office, reports TIME. And, during her appointment, she described herself as "a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump."

Right now, Loeffler's appointment makes her the ninth Republican woman currently serving in the Senate, compared to 17 Democratic women.

Since she is serving in an interim Senate role following Isakson's retirement, Loeffler will have to run in an official open primary race in November against candidates from all parties. So far, Collins is the only Republican who has said he may run against Loeffler for the seat. Meanwhile, no Democratic candidates have openly stated a plan to run.

The former finance executive, who is married to New York Stock Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, has pledged to spend $20 million of her own money for her first political campaign in an effort to win the race, reports TIME. Whoever wins the November election will still have to run for re-election two years later in 2022.

Loeffler, who is just the second woman to represent the state of Georgia in the Senate, received a warm welcome for her recent appointment from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

"This is the most women to ever serve in the Senate, and it comes at a time when we need more diverse voices in politics, not fewer," Feinstein and Collins said in a joint statement. "It took 27 years to go from two women to 26, and we should be able to reach equal representation in the Senate much more quickly."

The 49 year old's appointment also comes a year after the 116th Congress made history by swearing in a record number of 127 women into office.

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