Jon Ossoff and David Perdue’s Georgia Senate Race Goes to Runoff
Control of the Senate was shaken in Georgia on Friday after Senator David Perdue, a Republican, narrowly missed the majority of the votes he needed for re-election, qualifying for a runoff election in January second had created a rapidly changing state.
With the Senate being tightly divided, the two rematches scheduled just two weeks before Inauguration Day will almost certainly determine which party controls the Chamber, as well as the fate of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda if he does the White House wins, as expected.
Given these extraordinarily high stakes, both parties quickly positioned themselves for a nine-week year-end sprint that could cost an additional $ 100 million as Republicans and Democrats battle for two key seats and argue over the outcome of the presidential election. The runoff election promised to put a rapidly changing Georgia at the center of the nation’s political struggle and to test the extent of the emerging strength of the Democrats in a former republican stronghold in the deep south.
The special elections to the Senate in Georgia have been scheduled for a runoff election since Tuesday when the Democrat Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock and Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler emerged in a crowded field as the top two voters to replace retired Senator Johnny Isakson.
But the Republicans had hoped they could fend off a second such competition in Mr. Perdue’s case. By the time his race was called on Friday night after a lengthy count, Mr Perdue had a razor-thin lead over Jon Ossoff, his Democratic challenger, and none of the candidates claimed the majority of the votes required by Georgian law for a rematch to avoid.
Two more Senate races in North Carolina and Alaska had not yet been scheduled on Friday night. But Republicans were leaders in both countries, expecting a win, which would bring them to 50 seats for the 48 Democrats.
If the Democrats take both seats in Georgia, they would lead the Senate to a 50:50 tie and effectively take control of the Chamber if Mr Biden wins the presidency, as the Vice President has the power to cast groundbreaking votes. But that was a huge challenge in a state with deep Conservative roots, and Republicans were pretty confident they could hold onto at least one of the seats needed to keep the Democrats out of a majority, especially if the January turnout broke in.
For Democrats, who have struggled to run voters in the past, it will be a bank-shot attempt to gain total control of Washington after a spate of otherwise disappointing Congressional elections. They were so preoccupied with the task that Washington spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi made a private appeal Thursday calling on Democratic lawmakers to take care of their news in the coming weeks, or there was a risk that swing voters in Georgia would be too alienate.
Should Mr Biden win, as it became increasingly likely on Friday, Republicans will be motivated to deny him a majority, retain the considerable power to shape at least the first two years of his term and thwart liberal ambitions. A Super PAC in conjunction with Susan B. Anthony List, the anti-abortion group, pledged to spend $ 4 million on Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler on Thursday.
Regardless of the possible outcome, the runoff elections were a clear sign of the growing power of the Democrats in Georgia. After years of predictions, the mobilization of black voters and the movement towards Democrats by educated white women in the suburbs of Atlanta signaled that Georgia’s status as a true battlefield state could finally be achieved.
“Change has come to Georgia,” Ossoff predicted at a rally Friday, “and Georgia is part of change to America.”
Mr Perdue’s campaign immediately made it clear that he would try to nationalize the race, saying that a vote for Mr Ossoff would “be a vote to put Chuck Schumer and the radical Democrats in Washington in power”. Republicans were ready to try to take advantage of the complaint among President Trump’s most ardent supporters in the hopes that the president’s unsubstantiated fraud claims and a backlash on his likely loss could lead them to victory in January.
With Mr Trump resisting the election results, it was difficult to predict how much he might be involved in the Senate races. But early Friday morning he implied in a tweet that the Democrats were still trying nefarious means to seize power to reverse Republican policies.
“Would finish the filibuster, ‘Life’, 2A, and grab the dish and spin it. The presidency becomes even more important, ”he wrote. “We will win!”
On the one hand, Ms. Loeffler raced to bring his support to court, repeatedly tweeted support for the president and made donations for his cause.
“I pray for @realDonaldTrump for another four years!” She wrote in a tweet.
For all national overtones, the races could also be a defining moment for Georgia, a battle between the Atlanta New South and its increasingly diverse suburbs and the Old South dominated by rural and business conservatives.
Oct. Oct. 6, 2020 at 9:32 am ET
70-year-old Perdue, former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, who beat his Democratic opponent by eight points in 2014, should initially have an easy path to re-election.
But he was weighed down by voter displeasure with Mr. Coron’s coronavirus response – and his own missteps. He was charged with anti-Semitism after he ran a Facebook ad that enlarged the nose of the Jewish Mr. Ossoff, a move his campaign accused a salesman. He struggled to keep up with Mr. Ossoff’s amazing fundraiser, which exploded in mid-October after Mr. Perdue publicly mocked the first name of Senator Kamala Harris, his Senate colleague for nearly four years and the Democratic nominee for Vice President .
“Kah-MAH-lah or KAH-mah-lah or Kamamboamamla – I don’t know,” he said at a rally for Mr. Trump in Macon. Mr Perdue’s campaign said he had “simply mispronounced” the first name of Ms. Harris, a black woman of Indian and Jamaican descent. Mr Ossoff called it bullying and suggested it was race insensitive.
As in his 2014 race, Mr. Perdue ran as an outsider in Washington, advocating a denim jacket rather than the expensive bespoke suits he wears in the Senate. Given his six-year record, this time it was more difficult to resolve the case. But he linked his campaign closely with another former underdog, Mr. Trump, and pushed forward.
Mr Perdue struck Mr Ossoff as too extreme for the state and skewed many of the Democrat’s positions on policing, health care and a range of other issues in an attempt to attract moderate voters to his side. He praised the Republicans’ tax and regulatory cuts, as well as the popular programs Congress approved to help unemployed Americans and small businesses cope with the pandemic.
As a good sign for Republicans approaching the runoff election, Mr Perdue outperformed Mr Trump in Tuesday’s vote, and Mr Ossoff succeeded Mr Biden.
33-year-old Ossoff attempted to portray Mr Perdue as a special interest scammer who failed Georgia at a time of crisis and put people’s health care at risk by pushing for the Affordable Care Act to be repealed. Citing reports that Mr Perdue was trading stocks at the beginning of the pandemic, Mr Ossoff accused the senator of being more interested in his own financial success than that of the Georgians.
“Senator David Perdue is retiring,” Ossoff said on Friday. “A senator who felt it appropriate to keep attacking our health care in the midst of a pandemic. A senator who told us that this illness, which has cost a quarter of a million lives, was no more deadly than the common flu while he was taking care of himself. “
The special election was thematically similar, but puts two very different candidates against each other. Dr. Warnock, 51, who came out on top after Tuesday’s vote, is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, once founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Ms. Loeffler, 49, is a businesswoman and the richest member of the Senate. She overcame a tough challenge from Republican Doug Collins. She put more than $ 20 million of her own fortune into the race, and was backed by the Republican governor of the state and the Senate Republican electoral apparatus, who believed Ms. Loeffler’s record as a businesswoman could win back independent suburban voters, especially women.
But the fight over Mr. Collins became bitter and personal, and drove Mrs. Loeffler to the right. She courted the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon conspiracy theorist who won a seat in the House of Representatives in Georgia on Tuesday, and held other positions that could be hard to go back in January, even as she tries to campaign on her success as a business woman and report in Washington on the coronavirus crisis.
By Thursday she had already started to take Dr. Warnock and glanced at a playbook that seeks to dismantle his pulpit rhetoric and liberal political positions to portray him as a pastor in the form of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., the former pastor of former President Barack Obama, whose sermon “God damn America” was used to attack the former president.
But the Republicans are off to a late start. Ms. Loeffler spent much of the year holding back Mr. Collins, leaving Dr. Warnock largely untouched when he introduced himself to voters as a pastor and healer on purely positive terms.
Dr. Warnock anticipated a flurry of attacks on the horizon and used its first run-off advertisement, a parody of a campaign-style notice of attack posted Thursday, to try to prepare voters for what was to come.
“Get ready, Georgia, the negative ads are coming,” he says. “Kelly Loeffler doesn’t want to talk about why she’s getting rid of health care in the middle of a pandemic, so she’s going to try to scare you with lies about me.”