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In Georgia, Final Warnings About High-stakes Senate Runoffs

In Georgia, Final Warnings About High-stakes Senate Runoffs

Democrats and Republicans alike are casting Tuesdays twin Georgia Senate runoffs in the starkest of terms as the state prepares for lastminute visits from President Donald Trump and Presidentelect Joe Biden before elections to decide which party will control the Senate at the outset of Bidens tenure.

MILNER, Ga.: Democrats and Republicans alike are casting Tuesdays twin Georgia Senate runoffs in the starkest of terms as the state prepares for last-minute visits from President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden before elections to decide which party will control the Senate at the outset of Bidens tenure.

Republican David Perdue, who is fighting for a second term against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, said Monday the very future of our republic is on the line as he addressed by telephone a megachurch crowd gathered to see Vice President Mike Pence.

Declaring the duty to vote a calling from God, Perdue said the outcome in Georgia will determine the future of our country for maybe 50 to 100 years.

Those watching from afar were no less dramatic.

The people of Georgia have an opportunity to change the course of the nations history at this moment, said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a New Yorker who chairs the House Democratic Caucus.

Republicans need just one more seat to maintain Senate control and force Biden to contend with divided government. Democrats need a sweep for a 50-50 split that would make Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as the Senates presiding officer, the tiebreaking vote.

The stakes have drawn a flood of campaign spending measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with Trump and Biden making multiple trips to the state that finds itself newly atop the nations list of battlegrounds. Biden won Georgias 16 electoral votes by about 12,000 votes out of 5 million cast in November, though Trump continues to push false assertions of widespread fraud that even his attorney general and Georgias Republican secretary of state — along with a litany of state and federal judges — have said did not happen.

The president’s trip Monday comes a day after disclosure of a telephone call he made to the Georgia secretary of state over the weekend to pressure Republican Brad Raffensperger to find enough votes to overturn Georgia’s election results ahead of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory. The call highlighted how Trump has used the Georgia campaign to make clear his continued hold on Republican politics.

Trump is scheduled for a nighttime rally in north Georgia. Biden will campaign in Atlanta in the late afternoon with Ossoff and Warnock.

Perdue, whose first Senate term expired Sunday, and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, an appointed senator trying to win her first election, have spent the two-month runoff blitz warning that a Democratic Senate would herald radical and dangerous lurch to the left.

Democratic challengers Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have blasted Republicans as obstructionists, pointing to how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stymied President Barack Obama, and insisted that recovering from the nations ability to confront the coronavirus pandemic hinges on a Democratic majority.

To be sure, a closely divided Senate with the rules still requiring 60 votes to advance major bills makes the prospects of sweeping legislation difficult regardless. But a Democratic Senate would at least assure Biden an easier path for top appointees, including judges, and legitimate consideration of his legislative agenda. A Senate led by Republicans and McConnell would almost certainly deny even an up-or-down vote on Bidens most ambitious plans on health care, taxation and the environment.

More than 3 million Georgians already have voted. The last-minute push is focused on getting voters to the polls Tuesday. Democrats ran up a wide margin among 3.6 million early votes in the fall, but Republicans countered with an Election Day surge, especially in small towns and rural areas.

Even with Bidens statewide win, Perdue led Ossoff by 88,000 votes, giving the GOP confidence in the runoff. The runoffs were required because none of the candidates reached a majority vote, as required by Georgia law. Despite Perdues initial advantage, early voting figures suggest Democrats have had a stronger turnout heading into Tuesday, and leading Republicans have expressed concerns about the pressure that puts on their turnout operation.

Mondays itinerary shows how the two sides plan to hit their targeted voters.

Biden will be in the core of metro Atlanta with Ossoff and Warnock, where Democrats have capitalized on rapid population growth and suburban shifts away from Republicans. Trump will be in the north Georgia town of Dalton, the population center of one of the states most Republican congressional districts where the presidents appeal among small town and rural Georgians helps offset Democrats more city-based coalition.

In states less diverse and less urbanized than Georgia, Trumps reach was enough to propel several vulnerable GOP senators to comfortable victory margins, setting up the Georgia runoffs to tip the scales in the Senate.

Pence, meanwhile, was in Lamar County on the outskirts of the sprawling metro Atlanta footprint — an exurban enclave that could be the tipping point between the two parties respective strongholds.

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Barrow reported from Atlanta. Associated Press reporter Lisa Mascaro contributed from Washington.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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