Georgia voters mark their ballots on the first day of early voting in the U.S. Senate runoff election at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds December 14, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tami Chappell | AFP | Getty Images
In the final push ahead of the crucial U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia on Tuesday, Republicans and Democrats share this final message: the stakes can’t be higher, and the fate of either party’s agenda depends on the two races.
Reigning GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face the challenges of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively. The races will determine which party controls the Senate and how much Democratic President-elect Joe Biden can set his legislative priorities.
“The future of the country is on the ballot here in Georgia,” Loeffler told Fox News on Tuesday.
If at least one Republican candidate wins their race, the GOP retains control of the upper chamber. If Ossoff and Warnock win, the Democratic caucus and GOP would each have 50 members, which would give elected Vice President Kamala Harris the casting vote.
The two races in the Senate went to a runoff, as no candidate received more than 50% of the vote on November 3rd. Recent polls point to close races in the runoff elections.
More than 3 million Georgians had already cast their votes at the end of the early parliamentary term, a record turnout in runoff elections in the state. State election data suggests Democrats have an advantage in turnout, while Republicans are hoping for a strong performance from their base on Tuesday.
Both parties are preparing their final voting results with high profile surrogates visiting the state before election day.
Outgoing President Donald Trump is slated to blunt 71-year-old Perdue and Loeffler (50) in Dalton on Monday to rally voters in rural, conservative northwest Georgia, where turnout has lagged. Biden plans to promote 33-year-old Ossoff and Warnock, 51, in Atlanta on Monday.
U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) speaks during a campaign rally on January 3, 2021 in Canton, Georgia. Loeffler continued his campaign for the upcoming runoff elections in a race against the Senate Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock.
Alex Wong | Getty Images
Here are the most important issues that played out on the campaign path:
Supplying the base with energy
The candidates have focused the runoff elections on strengthening their bases to identify voters. For Republicans, it means reaching out to loyal Trump supporters, and for Democrats, it means rallying voters of the color and young voters.
Perdue and Loeffler have strongly allied themselves with Trump, including backing his baseless claims of widespread election fraud.
Trump has made Georgia one of his primary targets in his efforts to challenge Biden’s victory, despite two full hand counts of Biden’s victory in Peach State. The Georgia election results were confirmed for the race, and the state’s 16 electoral votes went to Biden. The president has attacked Republican leaders in Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, for failing to turn the state’s election results upside down.
Just days before his planned campaign trip to Georgia on Monday, Trump threatened Raffensperger with a phone call and pressured election officials to find popular votes that would sway the census in his favor. Perdue and Loeffler demanded Raffensperger’s resignation in November.
Some GOP strategists fear that Trump’s continued unsubstantiated attacks on the integrity of Georgia’s electoral systems could deter his supporters from voting for the two Republicans.
Democratic Senate candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock speaks during a campaign rally on December 15, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
Ossoff and Warnock have focused on mobilizing the diverse coalition in Georgia that led Biden to victory, including black and college-educated white voters, as well as young people, Asian Americans and Latinos.
“Vote,” Warnock said on Twitter on Sunday, “and we will build a new Georgia together.”
The Covid crisis
As the Covid crisis accelerates in Georgia and across the country, Ossoff and Warnock say Perdue and Loeffler used their positions of power for personal gain while the Georgians suffered.
Ossoff and Warnock accuse Perdue and Loeffler of insider trading, saying their opponents used private knowledge of the impending coronavirus pandemic received as senators in early 2020 to engage in advantageous stock deals.
“While [Perdue] He has enriched himself in office, buying shares in vaccine manufacturers and medical equipment. He’s been blocking relief for ordinary people who are suffering, “Ossoff said during a December 6 debate that Perdue declined to attend.
Perdue was interviewed about well-timed deals at the start of the pandemic, specifically about selling more than $ 1 million worth of stock in a financial analyst firm, Cardlytics, where he was once on the board. An investigation by the New York Times found that Perdue is the Senate’s most prolific stock trader, and that his 2,596 deals during his first term accounted for nearly a third of all Senatorial deals reported in the past six years.
Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Spokesman, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and chairman and CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange holding company, also came under fire in March after up to $ 3 million worth of stocks were sold in the weeks leading up to market indices falling dramatically in value.
Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) are to the power of five when Perdue takes the stage to address a campaign rally on December 21, 2020 in Milton, Georgia.
Elijah Nouvelage | Getty Images
Perdue and Loeffler’s investment activity led the Justice Department to investigate, but prosecutors declined to bring charges. The incumbent senators have repeatedly denied allegations of illegal or improper stock trading.
Perdue and Loeffler have touted the CARES bill and the passage of the recently passed US $ 900 billion Covid Relief Act as evidence that they brought much-needed aid to the fighting Georgians during the pandemic. Democrats would have stopped efforts to pass an aid package earlier.
Ossoff and Warnock have accused the senators of not doing enough to help their voters. When Trump pushed for major stimulus checks of $ 2,000, the Democratic challengers took the opportunity to criticize Senate Republicans for speaking out against a larger direct payment earlier in the Covid relief negotiations. Perdue and Loeffler later broke up with many Senate Republicans to support the president’s call for $ 2,000 direct payments to Americans.
The Democratic candidates have positioned themselves as key to Biden’s ability to deliver on his anti-virus and relief agenda.
Republicans: “Firewall” against socialism
At campaign events and media appearances, Perdue and Loeffler relied on a main tactic from the republican playbook: to stir up fears of socialism and communism.
“We are the firewall to stop socialism,” Loeffler told Fox News last week. “We will save this country,” she said at a recent election rally.
“This is the last line of defense against this radical socialist agenda that the Democrats are trying to carry out,” Perdue told Fox News on Saturday.
They have tied Ossoff and Warnock to policies they believe are radical, including Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and defusing the police. The democratic candidates do not support this policy.
Most of their attacks were directed mainly against Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. Republicans have used soundbytes from Warnock’s previous sermons to accuse him of being against guns, the military, the police, and Israel. The Warnock campaign has said that these clips have been taken out of context and do not reflect his stance.
Loeffler has tried to connect Warnock with a visit by the Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro in 1995 to a church in which he had been a youth pastor. Warnock said he never met Castro and PolitiFact found no evidence that he was involved in any decisions regarding appearance.
U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff speaks to a group of supporters at a rally on December 19, 2020 in Savannah, Georgia.
Megan Varner | Getty Images
Perdue has alleged that Ossoff took money from the Chinese Communist Party and headed a $ 1,000 payment from a Hong Kong media company to Insight TWI, Ossoff’s documentary production company. The Ossoff campaign said the money was a merchant royalty check that the company received in Hong Kong after re-broadcasting an Insight TWI program.
Perdue has also since been scrutinized for his ties to doing business in China related to outsourcing manpower as top managers at companies like Sara Lee and Dollar General, a New York Times report found.
Democrats: “Health, Jobs and Justice”
Ossoff and Warnock highlighted a tripartite message during the runoff election.
“This is a movement for health, work and justice for the people,” Ossoff said at a campaign rally on December 5th in Conyers.
Its platform includes policies and programs that draw the line between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic Party. You support the expansion of Medicaid, but do not support the Medicare for All payer system. They want to invest in green energy and infrastructure, but don’t directly support the Green New Deal. They campaign for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and advocate reform of the criminal justice system, but reject calls from activists to disappoint the police.
Ossoff and Warnock have positioned themselves as a continuation of Biden’s agenda, a narrative that Biden himself and other Democratic representatives have also emphasized.
“I need two senators from this state who want to get things done, not two senators who are just getting in each other’s way,” Biden said at a rally in Atlanta on December 15th. “Send me these two men and we will control the Senate and change the lives of the people of Georgia.”
Echoing the democratic messages from the general election, Ossoff and Warnock told voters that after four years of Trump’s presidency and months of ongoing battles against the Covid health crisis, they represent a better future for the country and Georgia.
“At the moment it can be dark and stormy,” Warnock said on Twitter on Saturday. “But a new day is just around the corner.”