With just hours to go before a pair of runoff elections in Georgia decide which party will control the U.S. Senate, President-elect Joe Biden held a rally in Atlanta on Monday as Democrats hope to vote out incumbent GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
“The power is literally in your hands, unlike anytime in my career. One state, one state can chart the course not just for the next four years but for a generation,” said a worked-up Biden to a crowd of supporters at a get-out-the-vote rally.
Georgia has become the center of the political universe in recent weeks due to the two Senate runoffs as well as President Trump’s attempts to upend the results there from the November election. Over the weekend, the Washington Post published an hourlong tape of Trump hounding Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the nearly 12,000 votes he would need to win the state. Raffensperger, a Republican, has repeatedly asserted that the election was free and fair, and noted that Trump has shown no evidence to the contrary.
If Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock both win their respective races on Tuesday, the party will then control 50 seats in the chamber, allowing incoming Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a tie-breaking vote. Should either Warnock or Ossoff lose, however, the GOP will retain control of the Senate and its ability to block the passage of progressive legislation concerning everything from health care to immigration reform and coronavirus relief.
Biden singled out COVID-19 relief as a major reason for Georgians to elect Warnock and Ossoff. “If you send Jon and the reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people,” Biden said, referring to stimulus checks that have been championed by Democrats and Trump yet whittled down by Senate Republicans. Otherwise, Biden said, “those checks will never get there.”
The president-elect also accused Loeffler and Perdue, who have been caught in the crossfire between the president and top Georgia Republicans like Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, of thinking that their “loyalty is to Trump, not to Georgia.”
Georgia, once a Republican stronghold, voted Democratic for president for the first time since 1992 when Biden won the state by just under 12,000 votes in November. The state’s swing to the Democratic column resulted from a mix of changing demographics, Trump’s unpopularity in Atlanta’s affluent suburbs and the relentless voter registration efforts of liberals like former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
While it’s famously difficult to accurately poll special elections, both Ossoff and Warnock have raised over $100 million each since November in their efforts to unseat Perdue and Loeffler. Both Biden and Harris have campaigned several times in the state since the November election. Trump, meanwhile, is scheduled to rally Republicans in the state on Monday evening.
A number of Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have assented to a go-nowhere effort to challenge the legitimacy of the election when Congress meets to formally certify the results on Wednesday. Trump has encouraged his allies to attempt to invalidate the November election, which he lost handily to Biden, although Republican leaders in Congress have signaled that trying to overturn the results would be not only futile but also politically damaging to the GOP.
Biden, for his part, made no mention of GOP efforts to overturn the election on Monday, instead sounding an optimistic note as he encouraged Democrats in the state to keep striving.
“Georgia, as dark as these days of winter seem, I’m still more optimistic about this country than I’ve been in my entire life,” Biden said.
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