Buckhead business executive Kelly Loeffler will be the new U.S. senator for Georgia, replacing incumbent Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down mid-term at year’s end for health reasons.

Loeffler, a Republican, was appointed to the Senate seat Dec. 4 by Gov. Brian Kemp. If she seeks to stay in the seat beyond the vacancy appointment, she will have to defend it in a 2020 special election. The seat will be on the ballot yet again in 2022, when Isakson’s original term expires.

Kelly Loeffler, the new U.S. senator for Georgia. (Special)

In a social media post, Kemp praised Loeffler as political conservative: “Kelly is a patriot who believes in the greatness of America & [is] a real conservative who’ll defend life, protect the Second Amendment, champion pro-growth policies, support [President Donald Trump] & put hardworking Georgians first!”

Loeffler and husband Jeff Sprecher, who live in Tuxedo Park, made news in 2013 when their Sandy Springs-based trading company Intercontinental Exchange bought the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler now heads a digital cryptocurrency market company called Bakkt and is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream professional basketball team.

Kemp’s choice of Loeffler drew national debate from some fellow conservatives who preferred north Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins for the pick.

Isakson, a Marietta Republican, announced his retirement earlier this year after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and other ailments and injuries.

Georgia’s other U.S. senator is Republican David Perdue, whose seat also will be on the 2020 ballot.

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