WABE’s Week in Review: Georgia Voters Could Play A Big Role In Shaping D.C.

Voters line up to cast ballots at the DeKalb County elections office on Oct. 13.
Voters line up to cast ballots at the DeKalb County elections office on Oct. 13.
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE

Four years ago, neither President Trump nor Hillary Clinton visited Georgia. This time around, Trump has been here three times over the summer. Trump’s surrogates have also come, including Donald Trump Jr. to Atlanta on Friday.

“We need to win overwhelmingly and we cannot do that without you Georgia,” said Trump Jr. to an in-person crowd. “So get out there. Vote!”

Trump Jr. has been here twice in the last two weeks. After Atlanta, he went to Macon, where his father was just a week earlier.

Also on Friday, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, came to Atlanta. It was her first time to Georgia since joining the ticket with Joe Biden.

“We need to vote to honor the ancestors,” said Harris to students at Morehouse College. “People like the late, great, John Lewis. That’s a reason to vote.”

One million new voters… 

Nearly one million new voters have registered in Georgia since 2016. And that number catapults Georgia onto the national stage, making the state a player in the election this year.

All those new voters could flip a once-solid Republican state.

“Forty-five percent of those new registrants are under the age of 30,” said former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who lost to Gov. Brian Kemp by 51,000 votes in 2018. “Forty-nine percent are people of color and when you look at those two groups, they’re likely going to be Democratic voters.”

Already 20 percent of voters have cast their ballots during early voting or by mail.

“If you locked the boxes up today and counted, Democrats would be winning in landslides,” said Republican political strategist Brain Robinson, speaking to WABE’s Denis O’Hayer on the Political Breakfast.

According to Robinson, traditionally, Republicans in Georgia were big on mail-in voting but may hesitate this year because of President Trump’s unfounded allegations of vote-by-mail tampering.

“So there may be more Republicans back ending their vote on election day, whereas Democrats were already very used to doing early voting in person,” said Robinson.

Doug Collins and Kelly Loeffler
Doug Collins and Kelly Loeffler (Matt Rourke and Russ Bynum/Associated Press)

The battle for two Senate seats…

Georgia has two U.S. Senate seat races on the ballot and both are so close they could go to a runoff in January. Georgia is the only state in the country that requires a majority to win in a general election.

The seat held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler is all but certain to go to a runoff. She was appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Kemp after sitting Sen. Johnny Isakson retired. There are 21 candidates for that seat and polling shows the frontrunners are Loeffler, Republican Congressman Doug Collins, and Democrat and Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church Raphael Warnock.

This week was the first debate for that seat. And we saw the intra-party battle between Loeffler and Collins dominated it. Both Republican candidates have questioned each other’s conservatism and honesty since Collins entered the race earlier this year.

“You know what you’ve attacked my hair, my makeup, how I talk, my clothes, where I’m from,” said Loeffler to Collins. ” You’ve lied about me, You’ve lied about my family. Here’s the truth. I’m here because I’ve earned everything I got. I’m the true conservative.”

“I’ve never mentioned anything personally about her, her hair, fixtures… it’s amazing what she’ll say about me,” said Collins. “There are lies going on. Lies about what you used to do when you worked with Planned Parenthood, when you worked with Michael Bloomberg.”

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock,
Rev. Raphael Warnock is the Democratic frontrunner in the race for Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seat. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

Raphael Warnock, the Democratic frontrunner, also appeared in the debate. He called on both Collins and Loeffler to condemn the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory that President Trump is leading a secret war against Satan-worshipping pedophiles in the deep state.

“I denounce hate groups of all types, on the left and the right. I don’t know anything about QAnon,” said Loeffler, who has been endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene is likely to be elected Northwest Georgia’s congresswoman and has come under fire for supporting the fringe movement.

“I don’t agree with Q-Anon and have not agreed with them and don’t support them,” said Collins.

Democrats Matt Lieberman and Ed Tarver also participated in the debate, as did Libertarian Brian Slowinski.

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is running against Republican incumbent David Perdue in what has become the most expensive statewide election in Georgia history. (John Bazemore and Drew Angerer/Associated Press)

The most expensive statewide race in Georgia’s history… 

In Georgia’s other U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent David Perdue is in a tight race against Jon Ossoff. As the polling narrows, the spending increases. It has become the most expensive statewide election in Georgia’s history.

And after Perdue appeared to intentionally mispronounce senator and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s name last week, money poured into Ossoff’s campaign, who made it a major fundraising moment.

And as WABE’s Emma Hurt reported, Perdue’s close alliance with President Trump is a central focus of the campaign.

Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia is a National Wildlife Refuge.
Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia is a National Wildlife Refuge. (Emma Hurt/WABE)

Mining near the Okefenokee Swamp… 

A company planning to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee Swamp has had a major hurdle removed: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says there are almost no wetlands or other waterways on the site that are protected by federal water law.

The move makes the permitting process for the controversial project shorter, cheaper and easier. The decision is a reflection of a Trump administration rule change that narrows the purview of the Clean Water Act.

The New Pittsburgh Kingdom Doors Church set out to help the community’s low-income families amid rising rents and home prices. Now, new development has put the church’s future in question. (Stephannie Stokes/WABE)

The helpers now need help… 

There is a lot of development happening in Atlanta’s Southwest Pittsburgh neighborhood. It is close to downtown and the BeltLine. But not many of the longtime residents there are cashing in on that development. One-third of the residents there live below the poverty line.

One church has made it its mission to serve those in need. And now as Stephannie Stokes reported, that church’s future is in question as it faces eviction.