A young campaign aide to Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) was killed in a car accident on Friday. The staffer, Harrison Deal, was a student at the University of Georgia, and had been set to graduate in the class of 2022.
Deal was a close friend to the family of Gov. Brian Kemp (R). Both Kemp and Loeffler canceled their plans to attend a campaign rally in Savannah Friday evening following the news.
What are the details?
"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Harrison Deal," Loeffler said in a statement. "My heart aches for his family, and Jeff and I will continue to surround them in love and prayer in the days ahead. Harrison was a beloved member of our campaign team.
"More importantly, Harrison was a smart, bright, loving, loyal and outstanding young man," she continued. "Harrison embodied the very best of this campaign — and the very best of our state. We will forever cherish and honor Harrison's memory, and I ask every Georgian to join us in praying for his family during this difficult time."
Earlier in the day, Gov. Kemp's office cited a "family emergency" when it sent out a notice that he would no longer be able to greet Vice President Mike Pence at the rally in support of Loeffler and fellow GOP Sen. David Perdue, who both face runoff races next month.
The Washington Times reported that at the rally, "Mr. Pence acknowledged Mr. Deal at the start of his remarks in Savannah, disclosing the staffer had died in an auto accident and that's why Ms. Loeffler was not present."
The Kemp family issued a statement mourning Deal's death, calling the young man the "Kemp son and brother we never had."
"Today, we lost a member of our 'Kemp Strong' family and words cannot express how much Harrison Deal's life, love, and support meant to us," it read. "He was a person of deep faith, unmatched integrity, and incredible kindness. Harrison was the Kemp son and brother we never had."
It continued, "Our prayers are with the Deal Family — and countless others — as they mourn the tragic loss of Harrison. He brought people together and made everyone feel important and special."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein noted that "the feeling was obviously mutual," pointing to a social media post Deal had written that showed him and Gov. Kemp in tuxedos.
In a message defending Kemp, who has faced recent criticism from fellow Republicans over Georgia's handling of election recounts in the state, Deal wrote:
"I will never be ashamed of this man. To have known him personally for the past two years, I can assure you the information currently being spread about him is completely false. He is the furthest thing from a corrupt man. He will always stand up for what's right and what's in the best interest for the people of Georgia. Mr. Brian is first off a dad and a husband to one of my favorite families. I will always be willing to fight for each one of them."
The feeling was obviously mutual. https://t.co/SX7ipANKw8— Greg Bluestein (@Greg Bluestein) 1607116574.0