Georgians’ Decisions, National Consequences: The First Week Of Senate Runoff Campaigning

At left, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are shown at an event last month in Jonesboro. At right, Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue wait to speak at a campaign rally in Cumming. The four U.S. Senate candidates have officially kicked off their campaigns to try to woo Georgia voters in their runoff races.

Brynn Anderson / Associated Press photos

After all outstanding U.S. Senate races were called this week, the country’s political world zeroed in on Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections.

Control of the Senate now lies in the hands of Georgia voters, and the four campaigns have officially kicked off their efforts to try to woo them.

“It’s all going to happen in Georgia,” said Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Marietta this week. “It’s all on the line. All eyes in this country are on Georgia. We’re going to save this country.”

Loeffler and fellow Republican Sen. David Perdue’s campaigns quickly coordinated, holding a joint event with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in Marietta and days later with Rubio’s fellow Floridian, Sen. Rick Scott, in Cumming that set the tone for many future surrogate visits as Republicans work to defend their Senate majority.

Both Republican events seemed to violate Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus by gathering more than a hundred people indoors, without requiring masks or social distancing.

“This is Georgia’s decision to make,” Rubio said. “But it’s America that will live with the consequences of the decision that they make here.”

“What we have to do now is not persuade people. We just have to get the vote out,” Perdue said. “Every generation faces its moment of truth. This is our moment of truth.”

Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock hit the trail separately this week, but both began their runoff races focused on health care at outdoor, socially distanced and masked events.

Ossoff spoke Monday at a health care-focused Atlanta press conference before campaigning across the state.

“If we do not win these Senate races, and if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, then Georgia families and Georgians with asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer will be at risk of having their health care coverage denied by insurance companies,” he said.

Warnock too began his campaign talking about health care, echoing Ossoff’s argument that a vote for a Republican is a vote for less access to health care.

“Your vote has not been more important than it is right now,” Warnock said. “The presidential race is over, but the game is not over. We still have work to do.”

“Make sure your voice is heard in your democracy, and don’t allow them to take your health care away.”

Just a week and a half since the election, national groups have already begun to organize and raise funds for the races. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has worked with Loeffler and Perdue to raise more than $30 million so far, and the group plans to hire about 1,000 field staff members.

Top donors to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have already turned their attention to Georgia, too, according to CNBC.

WABE’s Sam Whitehead contributed to this report.