“I’m announcing today that I will not be a candidate for any office in the next election cycle,” the former four-term congressman said Monday on Twitter.
In an accompanying statement, Collins said “this is goodbye for now, but probably not forever. I do plan on staying involved in shaping our conservative message to help Republicans win back the House and Senate and help more strong, conservative candidates get elected here in Georgia.”
And he emphasized that “I believe that we, as conservatives, must be able to clearly communicate our values, and I will help keep that fight going.”
Collins, an ally of then-President Donald Trump, ran last year in the special election to fill the final two years of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. But then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the reelection arm of the Senate GOP, backed Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Collins came in third out of more than a dozen candidates in the November election, behind Democrat Raphael Warnock and Loeffler. Warnock narrowly edged Loeffler in the Jan. 5 runoff election, but faces voters again in 2022. The GOP considers Warnock one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for reelection next year, when Republicans aim to win back the Senate majority they lost in Georgia’s twin January runoff elections.
A source close to Collins told Fox News that the former congressman said he’d “left everything on the table last cycle” and that it was “time for somebody else to step up and run for statewide office.”
“There are some private sector opportunities that are developing that he feels like he can take advantage of,” the source added.
Loeffler is considering a 2022 rematch against Warnock. And Herschel Walker, the former star college and professional football player whom Trump has encouraged to run, said in a Fox News interview earlier this month that he’s considering a bid.
Rep Buddy Carter, who represents Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, is likely to launch a campaign. Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Rep. Drew Ferguson, who represents Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District, are considered potential contenders.
Atlanta area construction company owner Kelvin King, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate who was one of the most prominent Black supporters in Georgia of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, has declared his candidacy in the Senate race. Military veteran and businessman Latham Saddler has also launched a campaign.
FILE – Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center February 27, 2020 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Collins, who served in the Georgia House of Representatives for six years before being elected to the U.S. House, represented the state’s 9th Congressional District, in the northeast corner of Georgia. He is also a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, holding the rank of lieutenant colonel.
While he was more likely to have run for Senate, he was also considering a gubernatorial challenge against GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who continues to face the rath of Trump for not helping the then-president try to overturn now-President Biden’s victory in Georgia in November’s election. Kemp is now high atop Trump’s list of Republican enemies and the former president has vowed to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp.
Vernon Jones, who as a Democratic state lawmaker last year was another leading Black supporter of Trump in Georgia, became a Republican at the beginning of this year and earlier this month launched a primary challenge against Kemp.