ATLANTA — In an announcement that opened up the field for a new slate of Republican candidates, former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins announced Monday he will not be launching a political bid for 2022.
Collins was suspected to challenge U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, who he lost to in the crowded special election in November. He also floated the idea of a primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp after vocal support from the former president.
But the former North Georgia House member announced that he would not be running for any seat — although he says he does plan to stay involved with the party to help Republicans win back congressional seats in the upcoming cycle.
"For those who may wonder, this is goodbye for now, but probably not forever," Collins said in a tweet.
A top ally of former President Donald Trump, Collins sparked a rift in the Republican party last election cycle when he chose to run against former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Kemp.
The move gave early indications of a new reality for the GOP: those who stand behind the former president and those who don’t. Political pundits suspect that Republicans who have rebuffed Trump’s claims of election fraud — including Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — will face primary challengers.
At a Valdosta rally, ahead of the Jan. 5 runoffs, Trump urged Collins to "“run for governor in two years,” which Collins said he has officially ruled out, but gave no indication of giving up on politics for good.
"I do plan on staying involved in shaping our conservative message to help Republicans win back the House and the Senate and help more strong conservative candidates get elected here in Georgia," Collins added in his announcement Monday. "I believe that we, as conservatives, must be able to clearly communicate our values and I will help keep that fight going."
With Collins out of the race, speculation grows over who will challenge one of Georgia’s two newest Democratic U.S. senators. If a GOP candidate is successful, they would dismantle the Democratic majority in the Senate that President Joe Biden heavily relies on to push his agenda.
Trump has pushed his support of University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker to run against Warnock, a request that has frozen the field for other high-profile Republican candidates until Walker announces his decision.