Kelly Loeffler's deep Wall Street ties

The new US senator from Georgia heads to Washington with an impressive business pedigree.

Businesswoman Kelly Loeffler wears many hats, the newest being her appointment to the U.S. Senate by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, to replace outgoing Sen. Johnny Isakson.

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Loeffler is a Washington, D.C., outsider who will step down from her post at Bakkt, a startup within Intercontinental Exchange — the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler has been married to Intercontinental Exchange CEO Jeff Sprecher since 2004.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 file photo, Mary Brock, right, and Kelly Loeffler cheer from their courtside seats as the Atlanta Dream basketball team plays in the second half of their WNBA basketball game, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis, File)

Kemp's decision came despite intense criticism from conservative allies of President Trump who wanted Kemp to appoint Rep. Doug Collins, one of Trump's staunchest defenders in Congress. Loeffler, a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream professional woman's basketball team, on Wednesday attempted to assuage the concerns of those who were against her.

"I haven't spent my life trying to get to Washington. But here's what folks are going to find out about me: I'm a lifelong conservative, pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall and pro-Trump," she said.

Wall Street background

Intercontinental Exchange congratulated Loeffler on her appointment on Wednesday.

"Loeffler played a key role at each stage of the growth of Intercontinental Exchange since joining the firm in 2002," the company said in a statement. "From ICE's roots as a startup to its place among the Fortune 500, Loeffler, a member of the Executive Management Committee of Intercontinental Exchange, oversaw all aspects of the company's investor relations, marketing and communications functions until 2018."

Jeff Sprecher, chief executive officer of Intercontinental Exchange, speaks during the Sandler O'Neill's Global Exchange and Brokerage Conference in New York June 10, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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She'll also be leaving Bakkt Bitcoin Futures, where she was founding CEO, to become a senator. The startup is set to launch its own bitcoin options contracts on Dec. 9, Bakkt said.

Loeffler will be one of only a few lawmakers with a tech background, which could come in handy as lawmakers wade into questions about regulating Big Tech.

Loeffler is also a donor. She's given $606,200, chiefly to Republican causes, since the start of 2018, 11 Alive reported.

What about the 2020 election?

Collins has publicly left open the door to challenging Loeffler for the seat, which is up for re-election in November 2020, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expressing support for Loeffler.

"She will be an incumbent Republican Senator," McConnell said in stating that both he and the National Republican Senatorial Committee would back her.

Businesswoman Kelly Loeffler speaks after she was introduced by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp as his pick to fill Georgia's vacant U.S. Senate seat at the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Elijah Nouvelage)

At the center of the debate over Loeffler's appointment was a question of who can best help the GOP position itself for success in next year's elections, as Republicans battle to maintain control of the Senate and White House.

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Loeffler's supporters believe she can widen the Republican tent and appeal to women and suburban Atlanta voters, who have fled the party since Trump's election. Her critics counter that an experienced campaigner with conservative credentials is needed to bring out the Republican base.

Conservatives react

Conservatives have been divided by Loeffler's appointment. Fox News host Sean Hannity questioned Kemp's judgment on Monday.

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"Call Brian Kemp now! Why is he appointing Kelly Loeffler?" Hannity wrote on Twitter.

Conservative commentator Erick Erickson said he trusted Kemp.

"I know and trust Brian Kemp. I think the Kemp and Loeffler folks need to step it up in conservative outreach now," Erickson wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. "I think pro-life groups have legitimate reasons to be concerned with Loeffler. But I trust Kemp to get the pick right."

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.