Politics

High-Stakes Georgia Runoff Elections Come Down To The Wire

More than 3 million Georgians have voted ahead of Tuesday's runoff elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.
More than 3 million Georgians have voted ahead of Tuesday's runoff elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE
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Republicans and Democrats don’t agree about much these days, but one common theme on the final weekend before Tuesday’s U.S. Senate runoffs was how important the races were to the future of the country.

If Democrats can sweep Tuesday’s Senate runoffs, they’ll achieve a 50-50 split, giving the vice president a potential tie-breaking vote for at least the next two years.

“Make no mistake,” said Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler speaking to supporters in McDonough Sunday afternoon. “We are in the battle of our lifetime and the eyes of the nation are on us Georgia. We’ve gotta get this done.”

“It’s so critically important. We did an amazing thing on Nov. 3, Georgia,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock at a drive-in rally in Savannah on Sunday. “The rest of the country didn’t see you coming. We want to say to them ‘welcome to the new Georgia, welcome to the blue Georgia.”

But that’s where the similarities ended.

Loeffler, as she has done throughout the campaign, warned that if Warnock and Ossoff won, they’d be rubber stamps for Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats.

“Making your life harder, making government bigger, more bureaucracy, red tape, Green New Deal, socialized health care, turning your doctor’s office into the DMV? No thanks,” said Loeffler. “We’ve gotta hold the line right here.”

A rally in Clayton County on Saturday featured speakers urging African-Americans to vote on Tuesday. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Warnock, meanwhile outlined the Democrats’ vision of what the next two years could look like controlling not only the U.S. House but also the Senate and White House.

“I’m not asking you to do this for me, because this election is not about me, it’s not about Jon Ossoff, it is about access to affordable health care, it’s about a livable wage, it’s about the dignity of work,” said Warnock. “It is about voting rights, it’s about Civil Rights, it’s about saving the planet; about clean air and clean water, it is about the work we must do in this moment.”

Ossoff called health care a “human right” and said that it wasn’t just a “privilege for those who live in the right part of the state,” referring to the number or rural hospitals that have closed over the past decade.

“We have lost nine hospitals in this state in ten years,” said Ossoff. “But if you send me and Rev. Warnock to the Senate, we will deliver the resources to re-open those hospitals, we will deliver the resources to build clinics that will serve every community in this state.”

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will both be in Georgia Monday, campaigning for Loeffler and David Perdue; President-elect Joe Biden will be in Atlanta to rally support for Warnock and Ossoff.

While Loeffler, Warnock and Ossoff spent Sunday campaigning, another election-related story threatens to knock the Senate races off the front page.

President Donald Trump in an hour-long phone call with Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, pleaded with the Georgia Secretary of State to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election, which Trump lost by just under 12,000 votes. Trump and his legal team have asserted that there was rampant voter fraud and cheating in the general election. But in the two months since, his team has failed to make its case, with courts soundly rejecting each argument and Republican elections officials in Georgia debunking conspiracy theories put forward by the president.

Campaigning with Ossoff and Warnock in Savannah, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris called the phone call “a bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States” and said that the president’s was a “voice of desperation.”

A prayer march was held on Saturday outside the Georgia State Capitol, just three days before the Senate runoffs. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

“Why are such powerful people trying to make it difficult for us to vote?” asked Harris. “And I think we know the answer, it’s because they know our power. They know when we vote, things change. They know when we vote, we win.”

Republican Sen. David Perdue has been off the campaign trail recently after close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. But Perdue did make TV appearances over the weekend, including one on Fox News in which he urged fellow Republicans in the Senate to contest the November election results from the Electoral College when they come up for a vote by a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

Because Perdue’s term technically ended at noon on Sunday, he won’t be able to cast a vote on his own on Wednesday. The effort by some Republican members of Congress to overturn the results of the November election is not likely to succeed as Democrats control the house and enough Republicans in the Senate, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory.

More than three million Georgians have voted ahead of Tuesday’s runoff elections – including nearly a million absentee by mail ballots. Those must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Night.

Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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