Trump ally Collins won't run for Senate or Georgia governor

FILE - Republican candidate for Senate Rep. Doug Collins attends an election night watch party in Buford, Ga., in this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, file photo. Collins announced Monday, April 26, 2021, that he will not run for governor or U.S. Senate in Georgia in 2022. (AP Photo/Brett Davis, File)
FILE - Republican candidate for Senate Rep. Doug Collins attends an election night watch party in Buford, Ga., in this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, file photo. Collins announced Monday, April 26, 2021, that he will not run for governor or U.S. Senate in Georgia in 2022. (AP Photo/Brett Davis, File) (AP)

ATLANTA – Georgia Republican Doug Collins, a favorite of former President Donald Trump, says he doesn't plan to run for governor or U.S. Senate in 2022.

The former congressman's announcement Monday makes it less likely there will be a top-drawer primary challenger to Gov. Brian Kemp, a frequent target of Trump's ire after the governor helped certify President Joe Biden's victory in November.

It also leaves Republicans without an obvious heavyweight against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who won a special election runoff in January over then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler and is seeking a full-term next year. Collins finished third in the first round, missing the runoff.

Victories by Warnock and fellow Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff gave Democrats control of the Senate, and the 2022 contest will again help determine the chamber's balance for the final two years of Biden's term.

Collins didn’t rule out a future statewide run, describing his decision as “goodbye for now, but probably not forever.” He said he'd continue “shaping our conservative message to help Republicans win back the House and the Senate.”

Chip Lake, Collins' top political adviser, said Collins told him in one-on-one conversations Sunday evening and again Monday that a statewide race requires a candidate “to give it 110%, and he is not in a position to get to that” in 2022.

Several Republicans, including sitting U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter and Drew Ferguson and former football star Herschel Walker, are eying the seat. But none would enter the 2022 contest with the political profile Collins carries as one of Trump’s fiercest defenders during the 2019-20 impeachment proceedings against the former president.

Lake confirmed Collins and Trump have talked periodically since the president left office in January though he said it’s unclear how much Trump tried to coax Collins into a 2022 campaign.