Fox News Host Sean Hannity Putting His Muscle Behind Potential Georgia Senate Pick

Sean Hannity and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp -Split- Getty-H 2019
Taylor Hill/WireImage; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Hannity said he's been texting and calling the state's governor as he urges him to pick Rep. Doug Collins to fill retiring Johnny Isakson's U.S. Senate seat.

Sean Hannity hosts the top-rated show in cable news and one of the most influential radio shows in the country. These days, he's using that massive microphone to pressure Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint a Republican congressman to a soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat, instead of the local businesswoman he is planning to pick.

Kemp will reportedly select Kelly Loeffler to serve as an interim U.S. senator, taking the seat to be vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson and positioning her handsomely for a special election next November.

But Hannity, who has lived and worked in Georgia, has been using his radio show to push back on that and lobby Kemp to instead pick Collins, whom he has called a "rock star," a "real-deal conservative," and "the greatest guy with the most courage."

"This governor of Georgia doesn't care what conservatives in Georgia are saying about this," Hannity said on his Tuesday show. "That is why I can't be a Republican. That's all we've gotten from the Republican Party."

Hannity, who hosted Collins as a radio guest on Tuesday, had told listeners on Monday that he has personally texted Kemp to get his message across.

"I've been trying to get a hold of the governor," the host said. "He did finally return my text today. I texted him earlier today. We've been calling his office. What's going on here?" (On his radio show, he incorrectly called Kemp's choice "Kathy Loeffler" before being corrected by his producer, though he continued to pronounce her last name "Loeffner.")

Hannity said he's been trying to get Kemp to come on his radio show but has not been successful.

And on Twitter on Monday, Hannity urged his 4.4 million followers to "call @BrianKempGA now!" and ask, "Why is he appointing Kelly Loeffler?" (He told Laura Ingraham that night that his staff primarily runs his Twitter account.)

Local media reported that Hannity's plea forced Kemp's office to "field more calls than usual" on Monday, though "Hannity posted an old number" that is no longer the best way to reach the Georgia governor.

"I appreciate your voice," Collins told Hannity on Tuesday. "I appreciate the voice of a lot of folks that have called me." (Hannity told Collins that his staff has probably told him that the Fox News host "enthusiastically supports" his potential appointment.)

By the end of the segment, Hannity seemed resigned to Collins' fate. "It would have been great to call you 'Senator,' but whatever, I guess you don't win them all," he said.

A Fox News spokesperson, asked by The Hollywood Reporter whether Hannity's pressure campaign and personal outreach to the governor is in line with the network's editorial policy for opinion hosts, has not commented.

Two press representatives for Gov. Kemp's office did not respond when asked about Hannity's lobbying and his requests for a radio interview with the governor.

Hannity's opinion-side colleague, Mark Levin (whom Hannity calls "The Great One"), has also protested the potential appointment of Loeffler. "Looks like Georgia Governor Kemp is another Romney," Levin tweeted on Sunday. "He’s about to appoint a [Republican In Name Only] to the Senate."

Last month, Levin personally intervened in a Virginia state senate election, rallying for Republican Geary Higgins, who lost. Levin, who also headlined a fundraiser for the candidate, defended his involvement. "If I want to support a friend who's running for the state senate, well, damn it, I will do it," he said on his radio show. "I should have done more for him. If I want to support my local sheriff, then, damn it, I will do it. And nobody on this planet is going to stop me. No corporation."