The southern state of Georgia goes to the polls on Tuesday to vote in two crucial runoff elections that could shift the balance of power in the US Senate from a Republican to a Democratic majority, as GOP incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue take on challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
President-elect Joe Biden was campaigning for Reverend Warnock and Mr Ossoff on Monday evening, promising voters that their victories would mean a blue takeover of the Senate and thus the chance to upgrade Covid relief cheques for American citizens from the current $600 a month to $2,000, a move staunchly opposed by current majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Donald Trump was also attempting to drum up support for Ms Loeffler and Mr Perdue last night but largely used the opportunity to protest his own defeat in November’s general election.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has called on GOP Sen. David Perdue, who is seeking re-election in one of today’s two high-stakes run off elections, to apologise for death threats his wife received after comments made by the senator.
Speaking with Fox News, Mr Raffensperger he had “heard one peep” from Mr Perdue after his wife received threats following the senator’s calls for the secretary of state’s resignation over alleged mismanagement of 2020 election results.
“Senator Perdue still owes my wife an apology for all the death threats she got after he asked for my resignation,” Mr Raffensperger said.
“I’ve not heard one peep from that man since. If he wants to call me, face to face, man to man, I’ll talk to him, off the record, but he hasn’t done that,” he said.
Latino voters in Georgia have reportedly already shattered records for runoff election turnout, with 65 per cent of those who voted early in November casting their ballots ahead of Tuesday’s runoffs.
As of Monday, 79,782 Latinos had voted early in the runoffs, compared with 124,662 on the Monday before the 3 November presidential election, Bernard Fraga, an associate professor of politics at Emory University, told NBC News.
With a total of 174, 508 Latinos in Georgia voting in the general election, Mr Fraga noted, that would mean about 50,000 voters went to the polls on Election Day.
The sweeping voter turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs represents a major spike from turnout in the state’s last runoff in 2018. In that race, just around 10 per cent of Latinos who turned out for the general election hit the polls again.
Underlining how dramatic the surge in voter turnout is this year, Mr Fraga said:”This is the highest turnout there will ever be for Latinos in a runoff.”
At stake in the twin Georgia runoff elections is control of the Senate. If one or both of the Republican candidates emerge victorious, the chamber will remain under Republican control, severely impacting Joe Biden’s ability to push forward some of the more ambitious goals in his legislative agenda.
If Democrats win, there will be a 50/50 split across the chamber, with Vice president-elect Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaker.
Rev. Raphael Warnock, one of the two Democratic candidates in Georgia’s twin runoff elections on Tuesday expressed optimism as voters headed to the polls, writing on Twitter: “Today’s our day”.
The reverend shared the words of his father, writing: “My dad used to wake me up at 6am every day. ‘Put your shoes on, son,’ he’d say, ‘Get ready. There’s something for you to do’.”
Here’s a word from the celebrated Georgia-based voter registration activist, credited with turning the state blue for Biden in November after being narrowly eased out of the governor’s office by the now-beleagured Brian Kemp during the 2018 midterms.
Well, in that case, here’s a piece on what the outcome of today’s vote could mean for post-Trump politics in the US.
For more than four years, President Donald Trump has dominated the Republican Party and the whole of American politics
Jeffrey Sprecher – comically-wealthy husband of Kelly Loeffler and the boss of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which oversees the New York Stock Exchange and the Libor – has just passed the 10-figure mark, according to Bloomberg.
Sprecher’s firm is “a $63bn behemoth that underpins much of the global financial system” whose success provides “another reminder of how Wall Street has done well during the pandemic while the broader economy struggles”, Anders Melin and Matthew Leising write.
So, in other words, don’t expect Loeffler to be too down if the good reverend trounces her at the polls today!
The vice president was shouted at to “Do the right thing” and help overturn the election while campaigning for Loeffler and Perdue yesterday.
“You know, I know we’ve all got our doubts about the last election. And I want to assure you, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities,” Pence said, ominously.
The president remains under fire for his weekend exchange urging Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” additional ballots to overturn the result in the Peach State, with Democrats calling for impeachment or an FBI investigation, House Republicans leaping to his defence and retiring GOP senator Pat Toomey branding the leaked conversation “a new low in this whole futile and sorry episode”.
One man with a different point of view though is David Perdue, one of today’s Republican contenders, who doesn’t mind the appeal to overthrow democracy so much, just the fact that it was leaked!
“To have a statewide elected official, regardless of party, tape without disclosing a conversation – a private conversation – with the president of the United States, and then leaking it to the press, is disgusting.”
President ‘engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes,’ Democrats allege
The Republican’s campaign against Reverend Warnock has been overwhelmingly negative throughout the contest and has followed much the same line of argument as Trump’s last night, taking a personal tack whenever possible, calling him a “radical” (is that always a bad thing?) and accusing him of everything from not paying his taxes to plotting to defund the police, hoping to scare wavering moderate voters to the right.
Addressing the personal attacks he has been subjected to, Warnock said yesterday: “Have you noticed she hasn’t even bothered to make a case, Georgia, for why you should keep her in that seat? That’s because she has no case to make.”
The Republican candidate – the wealthiest senator in Washington, who was accused of “campaigning with a Klansman” last week by Jon Ossoff – was working hard yesterday to keep Trump on side by tweeting extracts from his speech and announcing that she would be joining the credibility-ending GOP challenge to the presidential election results in Congress tomorrow.
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News – Polls open in Georgia runoff election – follow live