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Georgia’s newest US senator describes ‘fight for American ideal’

Georgia’s newest US senator describes ‘fight for American ideal’

From working the fields and busing tables to helping an Atlanta startup become a Fortune 500 company that bought the New York Stock Exchange, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, says she knows what’s possible and wants all Americans to be able to reach that potential.

Loeffler, who also co-owns the Atlanta Dream WNBA team, addressed a large Cobb crowd at the latest Marquee Monday breakfast event of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce at the Coca-Cola Roxy in Cumberland.

She declared it her mission to ensure her work in the Senate protects the American dream and keeps the economy strong.

“I could never have imagined this moment as that young, awkward, shy girl growing up on a farm, tending to my chores,” Loeffler said. “Two months into my role as a U.S. senator for Georgia, I’m really here for all of you. I’m in Washington working to represent Georgia, and through my background I think you’ll see that I don’t believe that I could be where I am today without this amazing state, the resources and all the opportunities that Georgia has given to me, and I want to make sure that’s available for all Georgians. One of the things I want to talk to you about this morning is my belief in the American dream.”

Humble beginnings

Loeffler, 49, said she was raised on a fourth generation family farm surrounded by corn, soybeans and cows.

Working in the fields before school, Loeffler started filling out time cards for her hours on the job at age 11, and had an early understanding of the value of hard work and the importance of business.

“That’s really where I gained my love and passion for work, for contributing and giving back,” she said. “I remember one time I was young and I said to my dad, it was one of his typically late nights, you know, coming in covered in dust and dirt from the fields, and I said, ‘Dad why are you always putting work ahead of the family?’ because I love my dad and I wanted to spend more time with him.

“And I’ll never forget what he said to me and the look in his eyes when he said it. He said, ‘Kelly, I work hard to provide everything that we have for our family,’ and I got it right away, I was like ‘oh my gosh, this is through his work, his labor of love.’

“I immediately bought into that hard life and his sweat-soaked clothes, his calloused, oil-stained hands came to represent to me really what is great about the men and women of our country, hard-working Americans who are providing for their families who want every opportunity to grow into that American dream that they have. I don’t care what your job is, what your title is, everyone deserves it and that’s why I’m in Washington fighting for.”

Business minded

Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp at the end of 2019 to replace Republican stalwart Sen. Johnny Isakson of east Cobb, who retired midway through his latest term due to ongoing health issues.

Kemp’s decision wasn’t without controversy, with some, reportedly including President Donald Trump, preferring he choose U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. But the governor told the Cobb Chamber crowd Monday that Loeffler is the right person for the job.

“She’s an outsider who found her success in business, not politics, and in today’s world I think that’s a pretty good thing,” Kemp said. “She’s going to Washington to shake up the status quo and during her two months on the job she’s certainly been putting her words into actions and making us proud.”

Loeffler said she realized the importance of economics growing up on a farm.

“You would hear the crop reports every day, the commodity prices, and my grandmother and my mom would write down in pencil on the white Formica countertop, you probably all remember those, the corn and soybean and feed and cattle prices, and from there I saw the markets and how they impacted our business,” she said. “ I decided I wanted to study business.”

She left home for Los Angeles “with a futon and an 8-year-old Camaro” and worked her way up.

“Some things didn’t turn out, I had setbacks and failures, there were times when I didn’t know if I was going to meet the rent, make the car payment, so I have been there, and when I think about what I can do in Washington to work for families, it really just gives me great energy,” Loeffler said.

She became an equity analyst on Wall Street and eventually got a job with Intercontinental Exchange in Atlanta before the company went public, hired as the 100th employee.

In 2005 the financial firm went public on the New York Stock Exchange, and within a few years it was a Fortune 500 company. A few years after that, it bought the New York Stock Exchange, which Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman of as well as founder, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange.

“Only in Georgia I think this story could have happened,” Loeffler said. “A lot of things played into it and being in Georgia, being in metro Atlanta was a huge part of it. Talk about things coming full circle.”

“Only in Georgia I think this story could have happened,” Loeffler said. “A lot of things played into it and being in Georgia, being in metro Atlanta was a huge part of it. Talk about things coming full circle.”

New focus

Now Loeffler is an politician, she’s setting her sights on making sure legislation doesn’t get in the way of economic progress for the country all the way down to its smallest business operators.

“I have so much respect for all the work you do to build your businesses each day,” she told the Cobb crowd. “It’s so important to me to support businesses, to support families, to support the safety and security of our country.”

Kemp said Loeffler has already proved her worth as a source of knowledge and wisdom on markets and trade.

For her part, Loeffler said she wants businesses to get the recognition they deserve for their contribution, from the community level up.

“I’m really proud to be part of the effort to make sure we have smart regulation, that we’re part of an administration that for every new regulation is helping remove eight, and making sure that taxes remain low enough to allow there to be more funding to put into hiring, investing, giving back in their communities,” she said, citing Georgia’s seven consecutive year stint as the leading state in the nation to do business.

Filling Isakson’s shoes also means Loeffler is involved in some of the country’s top secret discussions, the first of which occurred immediately after her being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

“I went into a briefing on the take-out of (Iranian Gen. Qasem) Soleimani. It was a classified briefing in the SCIF, (Secure Classified Information Facility) where I got to meet the joint chiefs of staff, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Secretary (of State Mike) Pompeo,” Loeffler said. “A week after that, I went into the impeachment hearing. There was no training it was just kind of like ‘great, go be a senator,’ and I really appreciated their confidence in me but I suspect it was the fact that they had confidence in my staff, because my staff is largely made up of Sen. Isakson’s staff and I’m so humbled and honored that they have stayed with me.”