David Perdue announces he won’t run against Raphael Warnock in 2022 Georgia Senate race

david perdue
Former Sen. David Perdue (R-Georgia).

  • Former GOP Sen. David Perdue of Georgia will not run for the Senate in 2022.
  • Just days ago, Perdue filed paperwork to explore a potential candidacy.
  • Perdue lost his reelection bid to Democrat Jon Ossoff in last month’s Senate runoff elections.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Former GOP Sen. David Perdue of Georgia announced on Tuesday that he would not be a candidate for the Senate in 2022, just days after filing paperwork to explore a potential candidacy.

Perdue, who lost his reelection bid to Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff last month after a bruising Senate runoff election, would have faced Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who defeated former GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a runoff special election to fill the remaining term of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson.

In a letter to supporters, Perdue expressed confidence that Republicans would win the Senate seat back.

“This is a personal decision, not a political one,” he wrote. “I am confident that whoever wins the Republican Primary next year will defeat the Democrat[ic] candidate in the General election for this seat, and I will do everything I can to make that happen.”

He added: “As we saw in my race in November, Georgia is not a blue state. The more Georgians that vote, the better Republicans do. These two current liberal US Senators do not represent the values of a majority of Georgians.”

Perdue also alluding to the proposed GOP-backed voting restrictions that are currently moving through the state legislature in response to the wave of Democratic statewide victories.

Last November, President Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since 1992,  which led to a monthslong pressure campaign by former President Donald Trump to overturn the election results and widespread claims of voter fraud among GOP activists.

“I am hopeful that the Georgia General Assembly, along with our statewide elected officials, will correct the inequities in our state laws and election rules so that, in the future, every legal voter will be treated equally and illegal votes will not be included,” he stated. “I will do everything I can to be helpful in this effort.”

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Perdue visited Trump in Florida last week, eating and playing a round of golf with him, but the outing reportedly “did not go well,” as the the former president was focused on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, GOP Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, and “retribution.”

According to The Times, a source close to Perdue indicated that the former senator and his wife “couldn’t get comfortable with another campaign.”

As the party looks to the 2022 cycle, which could feature a possible rematch between Kemp and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, Perdue’s move is a big decision for the Georgia GOP as it seeks to rebuild.

In 2022, Warnock will be running for his first full term, which presents an opening for potential opponents like former GOP Rep. Doug Collins, Loeffler, or a range of other GOP officials.

The wins by Warnock and Ossoff created a Senate split 50-50 between both parties and allowed Democrats to regain control by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote.

In the November election, Perdue earned more votes than Ossoff, leading by a 49.7% to 48% margin, but was forced into a runoff election due to the state’s unique electoral system. In accordance with Georgia law, the winner of any statewide election must earn at least 50% of the vote or the contest heads to a runoff.

Last month, Ossoff defeated Perdue by a 50.6% to 49.4% margin on the strength of support in the Atlanta metropolitan region and from the state’s growing minority groups, especially among Black voters.

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Georgia secretary of state says David Perdue ‘still owes’ his wife an apology for death threats after calling for his resignation

Brad Raffensperger 2
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday strongly defended himself against attacks from GOP Sen. David Perdue after the release of a recorded phone conversation featuring President Donald Trump pressuring him to overturn the statewide presidential election results.
  • “Senator Perdue still owes my wife an apology for all the death threats she got after he asked for my resignation,” he said on Fox News. “I have not heard one peep from that man since.”
  • In the recently-released conversation, the president, over an hour-long conversation, asked Raffensperger “to find 11,780 votes” to overcome Biden’s win and continued to push the false narrative that he won the statewide vote.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday strongly defended himself against attacks from GOP Sen. David Perdue after the release of a recorded phone conversation featuring President Donald Trump pressuring him to overturn the statewide presidential election results.

In a testy interview on Fox News, Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, slammed Perdue for saying that the release of the phone call was “disgusting.”

After the November election, which saw President-elect Joe Biden win Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes, Trump and many leading Republican officials decried the result, spewing debunked allegations of fraud to explain the president’s loss.

At the time, Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who are both battling to win their respective Senate runoff elections on January 5, called on Raffensperger to resign for alleged mismanagement and a lack of transparency into the results.

Raffensperger refused to entertain their proposal.

Months later, Raffensperger is calling on Perdue to apologize to his wife, who was the target of threats after the calls for him to step down.

“Senator Perdue still owes my wife an apology for all the death threats she got after he asked for my resignation,” he said on Fox News. “I have 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.”

When Raffensperger was asked if he was holding a grudge, he firmly rejected that assertion, saying that he was interested in making sure the public was correctly informed about the election results.

“It’s really about getting the facts out,” he said. “We just did a press release today. President Trump probably had 8 to 10 points. Every one of his numbers were wrong. We have a poster board of all the real numbers that we have versus what they have. Our numbers will be supported in a court of law. Their numbers will not be.”

In the recently-released tape of Raffensperger, Trump, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, and other attorneys, the president, over an hour-long conversation, asked the secretary of state “to find 11,780 votes” to overcome Biden’s win and maintained the false claim that he actually won the state.

Officials in Raffensperger’s office recorded the call, and the secretary of state insisted that he didn’t plan to release a copy of the recording. However, Trump continued to attack the secretary of state and give misleading statements about the nature of the conversation, and the tape was released.

The Washington Post first reported the story about the conversation.

Perdue, in an appearance on Fox News, contended that Raffensperger should not have recorded Trump.

“I guess I was raised differently,” Perdue said on Fox News. “To have a statewide elected official, regardless of party, tape without disclosing a conversation – private conversation – with the president of the United States, and then leaking it to the press is disgusting.”

With the runoff election just a day away, the exchange of words between Perdue and Raffensperger reflects the tightrope that the party faces to retain two key Senate seats and maintain some comity within the state.

Raffensperger told NBC News that he didn’t know how the tape was released but said that people are “the better for it.”

“Now everyone can listen to the whole one-hour eight-minute call with the president,” he added. “But at the end of the day, what he said was not factually correct. And I want to make sure that people understand the facts.”

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Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia has to quarantine days before the all-important runoff race for his seat

David Perdue
  • The Republican Senator David Perdue has been forced to go into quarantine after coming into contact with a person who has COVID-19, his campaign said.
  • Perdue will have to step back from the closely fought race against Democrat Jon Ossoff, only days from the election on January 5.
  • The Georgia contest outcome where Sen.Kelly Loeffler will also face off against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock will decide which party controls the Senate.
  • If Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock both win, Democrats will control the legislative and executive branches, allowing for Joe Biden to more easily accomplish his legislative goals.
  • A newly released poll from JMC Analytics and Polling found Warnock and Ossoff leading over Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue as early votes are cast.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Georgia’s Republican Senator David Perdue has been forced to go into quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, his campaign has said.

The senator will have to step back from the all-important election battle, just days from the election on Tuesday, January 5.

On behalf of the 71-year-old his campaign said, in a statement issued on Thursday: “This morning, Senator Perdue was notified that he came into close contact with someone on the campaign who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Both Senator Perdue and his wife tested negative today, but following his doctor’s recommendations and in accordance with CDC guidelines, they will quarantine. The Senator and his wife have been tested regularly throughout the campaign, and the team will continue to follow CDC guidelines.”

The announcement came 30 minutes before Perdue was due to speak at a campaign event in Gainsville, alongside Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, CNN reported.

Battle for control of the Senate

The outcome of the Georgia contest where Sen.Kelly Loeffler will also faceoff against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock will decide which party controls the Senate.

If Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock both win, Democrats will control the legislative and executive branches, allowing for Joe Biden to more easily accomplish his legislative goals.

On Wednesday, Insider reported that a newly released runoff poll found that the Democratic candidates were widening their leads.

The JMC poll, conducted with 500 respondents on Monday and Tuesday, found Ossoff ahead of Perdue 50% to 43%, or 7 points, with 7% of respondents saying they were undecided.

The divide between Warnock and Loeffler in the poll was even larger: Warnock was ahead 53% to 44%, or 9 points, with 3% of respondents saying they were undecided.

JMC is one of just a handful of pollsters participating in the Senate runoffs – many of the most recognized and reputable pollsters have not conducted any polls since the general election in November.

A recent survey conducted by SurveyUSA found Ossoff with a 5-percentage-point lead and Warnock with a 7-point lead. And according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling tracker, the margin of support has steadily increased for the Democratic candidates in polls conducted since the general election on November 3.

Nick Gourevitch, a Democratic pollster with Global Strategy Group, recently told Politico that trusting the accuracy of polls in Georgia following the tumultuous presidential polling would be a mistake.

 

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Newly-released Georgia Senate runoff polls show Democratic candidates with a widening lead

Rev Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff meet in a georgia senate runoff rally
Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock greet each other onstage during the “Vote GA Blue” concert for Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff at New Birth Church on December 28, 2020.

  • The two Georgia Senate runoff elections will decide whether Republicans maintain control of the Senate. If Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock both win, Democrats will control the legislative and executive branches, allowing for President-elect Joe Biden to accomplish his legislative goals with greater ease.
  • According to newly-released polls from JMC Analytics and Polling, Warnock and Perdue have grown their projected leads wider than ever before as early votes continue to be cast.
  • JMC is one of just a handful of pollsters participating in the Senate runoffs — many of the most-recognized and most-reputable pollsters have not conducted any polls since the general election in November.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock have widened their projected leads against incumbent Republican candidates Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, according to a newly-released poll from JMC Analytics and Polling

The JMC polls, conducted between December 28-29, show Ossoff ahead of Perdue in a 50-43 percentage point margin – 7% of respondents were undecided. The divide between Warnock and Loeffler in the poll is even larger with Warnock ahead in a 53-44 percentage point margin with just 3% of respondents undecided. 

When asked how and when the survey takers would vote, 91% of respondents noted that they had already voted or planned to vote early in-person or by mail. Just 7% of respondents said they planned to vote on election day. 

In November, about 20% of the state’s votes were cast on election day. If JMC’s polling is correct, Loeffler and Perdue will need to receive far more of Georgia’s 2.6 million early votes than expected.

The two elections will have a direct impact on the beginning of President-elect Joe Biden’s presidency: If Ossoff and Warnock succeed in their respective races, the Democratic party will have control of the entirety of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government and would allow Biden to accomplish his legislative goals with greater ease.

But while JMC’s polling is a good sign for Democrats, it is one of only a handful of pollsters which have participated in the Georgia Senate runoffs.

The 2020 presidential election was home to hundreds of polls throughout the country – some of which were grossly off, leading to backlash.

Nick Gourevitch, a Democratic pollster with Global Strategy Group, told Politico that expecting trust in the Georgia polls following the tumultuous presidential polling results would be a mistake.

“Everybody fundamentally understands that it’s going to become an issue of partisan turnout,” Gourevitch said. “And anybody who tells you they know exactly what’s going to happen in terms of partisan turnout in a special election with two senators to decide control of the Senate in a post-Trump era when he’s not on the [ballot] – nobody knows the answer to that question. It’s a completely unique situation.”

Nate Silver, the editor-in-chief and founder of FiveThirtyEight, thinks the answer is even simpler: “I think pollsters are being chicken,” he said on FiveThirtyEight podcast on Tuesday.

Following the general election, FiveThirtyEight has tracked just 20 polls, many of which come from smaller, less experienced polling groups.

“You are not polling,” Silver said in reference to many of the large university-aligned pollsters, “because you are scared of being wrong… Pollsters don’t want to put their necks on the line because we live in a world where people are not very rational about probabilities and uncertainty.” 

President Trump’s recent defiance of the GOP is not helping Republican candidates.

Trump Georgia rally
President Donald Trump headlined a campaign rally in Valdosta, Ga., for Sens. David Perdue, left, and Kelly Loeffler, right.

Trump, for his part, has put Loeffler and Perdue in difficult political positions throughout their respective Senate runoff campaigns.

While Loeffler and Perdue have both ran as unwavering allies of Trump, with the president traveling to the state to headline a December 5 rally on their behalf, he mostly used the event to air grievances about his own election, repeatedly making debunked claims of voter fraud and falsely stating that he won the state over Biden.

Trump has repeatedly jousted with top Georgia Republicans from Gov. Brian Kemp to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, creating a sense of political disunity, which party members can ill afford if they are to win both races against well-funded Democratic challengers who have strong support from Biden and the party base.

The president’s consistent pressure campaign against the statewide election results drove Loeffler and Perdue to call for Raffensperger’s resignation last month, which the secretary of state firmly rejected.

When the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed both houses of Congress, it included $600 direct stimulus checks, which Trump said was too low. Warnock and Ossoff have both been pressing for increased direct aid for months, and it has emerged as a major campaign issue in both Senate races.

Before Trump’s push for increased direct aid, Loeffler and Perdue touted their support for the compromise relief bill. However, with the president calling the $600 figure a “disgrace,” Loeffler quickly backed his proposal for $2,000 stimulus checks on December 29, followed by Perdue on the same day. 

Previously, Loeffler had been on the fence about increased stimulus payments, while Perdue has generally opposed stimulus checks, which Ossoff has highlighted in his campaign.

Despite Trump not actually being on the ballot, his legacy is at stake. Loeffler and Perdue still have to closely align themselves with the president to win or risk turning off his most ardent supporters.

With control of the Senate on the line and Democrats in a solid position to capture both seats, Loeffler and Perdue have to increase turnout on their side or a blue wave will give Biden the unified government that he needs to enact his agenda.

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Jon Ossoff has raised more money than any Senate candidate in US history in heated Georgia runoff election

Warnock and Ossoff
FILE: Democratic candidate for Senate Jon Ossoff, right, and Democratic candidate for Senate Raphael G Warnock, left, arrive before they speak to a crowd during a “Get Out the Early Vote” event at the SluttyVegan ATL restaurant on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Jonesboro, Ga.

  • John Ossoff, the Georgia Democrat vying to oust the incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, has become the highest-funded candidate for Senate in US history, The New York Times first reported.
  • According to data from the Federal Election Commission, Ossoff raised $106.7 million between October 15 and December 16.
  • Also in Georgia, Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Democrat seeking to replace the Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, raised $103.3 million during the same time, according to the data. 
  • The Georgia runoff election, triggered with none of the candidates in either race received enough votes to win, has garnered national attention because the victors determine whether Republicans maintain control of the Senate.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Jon Ossoff, the Georgia Democrat embattled in the heated runoff race against Republican Sen. David Perdue, the incumbent, has become the highest-funded senatorial candidate of all time, The New York Times first reported Friday.

The news comes following the release of the latest round of fundraising data from the Federal Elections Commission, covering the period between October 15 and December 16. During that period, Ossoff raised $106.7 million. Perdue raised $68 million during the same period, according to the FEC data.

Reverend Raphael Warnock, who is also embattled in a heated Georgia runoff race against incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler raised $103.3 million during the same period, according to the data. Loeffler raised approximately $64 million during the fundraising period, according to the FEC.

In both races during the general election, neither candidate received enough of the vote to be declared the winner, triggering a runoff election scheduled for January 5. The Georgia runoff races have captured nationwide attention because the winner of the races determines which party will control the US Senate.

If Ossoff and Warnock win both of their races, the Senate majority will be split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. But, if either Perdue or Loeffler wins, the GOP will continue to hold the power in the Senate, creating a roadblock for the Democrat-controlled House and president-elect Joe Biden, also a Democrat.

Biden flipped the state of Georgia blue during the general election, which was one of the states that proved key to his victory over President Donald Trump.  

Nearly half of the donations to Warnock and Ossoff were under $200, The New York Times noted. Just about 30% of donations to Perdue and Loeffler were from small donors, according to the data.

Both Ossoff and Warnock’s fundraising during the quarter surpassed the previous record broken by Jaime Harrison, who raised $57 million in a single quarter in his failed campaign against South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. 

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Rep. Ayanna Pressley dubs Georgia GOP Sens. Loeffler and Perdue ‘the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption’

ayanna pressley
Rep. Ayanna Pressley speaks at a program voicing support for those protesting against police brutality against Black Americans in Boston on June 2, 2020.

  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Friday called Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue “the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption.”
  • The Massachusetts Democrat made the comments during an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid about turning out voters for the January 2021 runoff elections in the Peach State.
  • “Georgia, do your thing,” she said. “I know we’re asking a lot of Georgia … Do what you do. All eyes are on Georgia.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Friday slammed Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, calling them “the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption.”

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” with host Joy Reid, the Massachusetts Democrat spoke about turning out voters for the January 2021 runoff elections in the state, which will determine control of the US Senate.

“Georgia, do your thing,” she said. “I know we’re asking a lot of Georgia. But do your thing, Georgia. Do what you do. All eyes are on Georgia. [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [of Kentucky]…Loeffler, Perdue – they are the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption.”

She added: “They are all the same. We need to regain control of the Senate. Georgia, do what you do.”

An analysis by The New York Times showed that Perdue sometimes made more than 20 stock transactions in one day, and he made nearly 2,600 trades during his first term in office. His financial transactions came under scrutiny this past year, with the Times reporting that “the Justice Department had investigated the senator for possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in a financial-analysis firm, Cardlytics.”

Though prosecutors ultimately did not file charges, questions lingered about stock trading among all senators and potential conflicts of interest.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department began an investigation into Loeffler after she sold millions of dollars’ worth of stock in January after a briefing about the coronavirus. No charges were filed in her case, and she has denied any wrongdoing, calling attacks against her “a political witch hunt by the fake news media.”

On December 15, President-elect Joe Biden visited Georgia to stump for the challengers to Loeffler and Perdue, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.

Loeffler, who is running in a special election to fill the remaining term of GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Perdue, who is running for reelection to a second term, both fell below the 50% threshold to win their races outright, which necessitated runoff elections.

The 2020 elections produced a 50-48 advantage for the Republicans, with the outstanding Georgia Senate races making the difference in McConnell keeping control of the chamber or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York becoming the new majority leader. If Democrats can win both seats, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be able to break tie votes, giving the party control of the Senate for the first time since 2015.

As of Friday morning, over 1.1 million voters had already cast ballots for the runoff elections, according to Reuters.

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McConnell included $600 checks in COVID-19 stimulus plans after hearing that GOP opposition could cost them the Georgia Senate runoffs, report says

Perdue Loeffler
A composite image of Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia on November 19, 2020.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came to back $600 COVID-19 stimulus checks after hearing that prior opposition was hurting them in Georgia, according to The New York Times.
  • Citing a private call, the Times said McConnel described said Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue  “getting hammered” on the issue.
  • The Georgia runoffs on January 5 will decide the balance of power in the Senate.
  • Checks of $1,200 were sent out earlier in the year, but had dropped off the radar in the latest negotiations until coming roaring back this week.
  • McConnell’s intervention helped put them back on the agenda, although Democrats are angered that this came at the apparent cost of one month of unemployment benefits.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to support $600 checks in COVID-19 stimulus negotiations was motivated by fears for the Georgia runoff elections, according to The New York Times.

Two sources told the paper McConnell’s U-turn on supporting the checks came after hearing that Republican opposition to more stimulus checks was hurting ongoing campaigns in Georgia.

Times sources said that McConnell warned fellow GOP lawmakers that Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are “getting hammered” over the checks.

In a private phone conversation Wednesday, McConnell said that backing another round of direct payments to Americans could help, the Times reported. 

The Georgia runoffs, to be held on January 5, will decide the balance of power in the Senate, determining how much of a free hand President-elect Joe Biden can expect when he takes office. 

McConnell has been the most stubborn force in the stimulus negotiations, consistently sticking to his slimmed-down proposal of around $500 billion.

Meanwhile, leading Democrats have whittled their initial $2.2 trillion demand down by at least half, accepting a $908 billion bipartisan proposal as a basis for negotiations.

That proposal kicked stimulus checks into the long grass. But on Wednesday, McConnell made a surprise pivot to supporting stimulus checks of around $600-700.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had introduced a White House proposal last week that included $600 checks, but it also made a massive cut to unemployment benefits, turning off Democrats.

As negotiations drag on, progressives such as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders have continued to make the case for $1,200 checks.

Democrats are also unhappy that the $600 checks proposal comes at the apparent cost of shrinking unemployment benefits by a month. 

The final shape of what both parties are likely to agree on is starting to emerge, with a price tag of around $900 billion. According to the Associate Press (AP), this could include:

  • $300 billion in support for businesses, in another round of PPP
  • $600 checks to all, and a further $300 to the long-term unemployed
  • Renewal of unemployment benefits
  • $25 billion to help renters struggling to make payments
  • $10 billion for the US Postal Service

Likely to be left by the wayside is around $160 billion to help state and local governments – a Democratic wish – and pandemic liability protections for businesses that the GOP has pushed for. 

Negotiations on the stimulus package are going down to the wire, with a deadline on Friday looming to avert a government shutdown. This could be extended. 

Negotiators had hoped to strike a deal after two in-person meetings on Wednesday, but left that night without a final agreement. 

“We’re still close and we’re going to get there,” said McConnell, as he left negotiations, according to the AP.

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If Democrats want to win in Georgia and seize the Senate, they need to go on the attack

Trump Georgia rally
President Donald Trump headlined a campaign rally in Valdosta, Ga., for Sens. David Perdue, left, and Kelly Loeffler, right.

  • Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are running for two Senate seats and control of the Senate hangs in the balance.
  • Down ballot Democrats struggled on Election Day because they went on the defensive. To win in Georgia and take back the Senate, Democrats need to go on the offensive and attack the GOP.
  • A great line of attack for Democrats in Georgia would be to pin the Republican candidates — Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — to the GOP’s biggest loser: Donald Trump.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Despite the hopes for a “Blue Wave,” Republicans surprised Democrats and many election analysts in November by holding onto 50 seats in the US Senate – just one seat away from retaining their majority. As usual, Democrats underestimated the Republican attack machine and the power of their false claims about Democratic socialism and defunding the police

But despite the strong GOP showing, there are two final Senate seats still up for grabs. The good people of Georgia have the chance to prevent Sen. Mitch McConnell from remaining majority leader and the grim reaper of progress. 

In the two runoffs that will decide control of the Senate, the Democratic candidates face historically long odds. Both contests are tight, and both Democratic candidates began their races as the underdog. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and Democrats need to leave it all on the field. 

The GOP has overperformed by keeping the Democrats on defense. In order to pull off their own Senate surprise, Democrats must flip the field and go on offense. 

Tie ’em to Trump

In November, the Georgia electorate joined a chorus of battleground victories in rejecting Trumpism. The statewide win for President-elect Joe Biden shows a path forward for Democrats. They should put the GOP’s biggest loser back on the ballot in the Peach State in order to secure a win in January. 

Even after President Donald Trump’s loss, Senate Republicans have shown that there is no daylight between themselves and the outgoing commander. Their latest hits include shrugging their shoulders when the president fired officials who defied him and hiding when he alleged voter fraud with no substantive evidence. 

In recent weeks, GOP senators have reached alarming levels of brazenness. Their bullying of Georgia election officials failed to strip power from Georgia voters but succeeded in showing the GOP’s disregard for law and the democratic process. 

Equally alarming has been Senate Republicans’ failure to denounce violent threats against election officials – and the dangerous rhetoric from the president and his team that incited these threats. Their tacit approval of violence has put the safety of Georgians – including many Republicans – at risk

Even Attorney General Bill Barr and the US Supreme Court have stood up to Trump on his election charade, but the Senate GOP is a profile in cowardice, not courage.

A vote against dysfunction

For their parts, Georgia’s GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have made no moves to jump off the Trump train. In fact, they’ve become first class passengers. The pair have been loyal battleground soldiers in Trump’s futile election fight. 

They have attacked honorable Georgia Republicans doing their jobs – or stood silently while the President came after GOP allies. They sided with a lawsuit against their state that the Republican Attorney General had strongly condemned. They fan the flames of chaos as tensions and threats increase in their state.

As Loeffler and Perdue continue to stand with the President and refuse to acknowledge his defeat, it’s clear who’s really on the ballot in these runoffs.

They have tied themselves inextricably to Trump and have made it clear that a vote for them is a vote for all things Trump: his failure on the pandemic, his tanking of the economy, and his all-out assault on the will of Georgia’s electorate.

Votes for Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are votes for progress and against the dysfunction in Washington that McConnell and company will surely bring. They also will be votes against the lame duck who is departing January 20. 

The alternative is gridlock and partisanship that will benefit no one other than our nation’s enemies. Democrats should label Senate Republicans as the Trump puppets they are and drive home that unless they are defanged, they will smear President-elect Joe Biden’s term with a bright orange stain. 

It’s time for Democrats to make the election – and the country – about the collective GOP failure of the past four years. Everything the national majority voted for in November depends on it. 

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Jon Ossoff is betting that TikTok can boost young voters in Georgia’s heated runoff race – and his chances don’t look bad

Jon Ossoff TikTok
Democrat candidate for Senate Jon Ossoff has joined TikTok as he campaigns for his January 5 runoff election against Republican Sen. David Perdue.

  • Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is less than a month away from his runoff election against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, is now using TikTok to reach young voters.
  • Over the past week, Ossoff gained more than 110,000 followers, posting videos that encouraged people in Georgia to register to vote by Monday’s deadline to vote in the runoff.
  • Despite its quickly growing popularity, only a few political candidates in 2020 took the plunge to TikTok this year and saw varying results.
  • US leaders, namely President Donald Trump, have expressed concerns over the app’s ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance, and Trump launched a so-far failed attempt to ban it in the country.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Georgia teens want to flip the Senate in runoffs set to take place in less than one month. 

So, it comes as little surprise that Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, who is embattled in the heated Senate runoff race against Republican Sen. David Perdue, has turned to TikTok as of early December.

In less than a week after he began posting videos as part of his campaign’s effort to woo young voters, Ossoff has gained thousands of TikTok followers. The 33-year-old candidate, posting as @jon, has amassed more than 110,700 followers as of Tuesday afternoon, the byproduct of just 10 videos that, in total, have brought in 1.4 million likes.

His most-viewed TikTok video was posted Friday and has earned over 1.5 million views and more than 379,000 likes.  In the video – a mashup of several clips from previous Ossoff events -the Senate hopeful asks “has anyone seen David Perdue,” painting his opponent as an out-of-touch and absent politician.

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Democrats are hoping to further capitalize on Georgia’s unprecedented turnout of young voters, who were vital in helping Biden win the state. Voters aged 18-29 accounted for about 20% of the overall vote in Georgia, according to data analyzed by CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. About 58% of the youth vote went to Biden, compared to the 39% that Trump received, according to the data. 

An estimated 23,000 Georgia teens will be eligible to vote for the first time on January 5, as they turned 18 after the November election. In one TikTik video posted Sunday, Ossoff encouraged those who became eligible to vote between November and January to register to vote by Monday’s deadline. 

“Georgia’s unprecedented youth turnout in the general election was a result of years of Georgia Democrats’ hard work and Jon’s relentless focus on turning out young voters. Our digital program’s strategy is intended to meet young voters where they are: online,” Miryam Lipper, a campaign spokesperson told Business Insider. 

Although TikTok has not publicly released data about the demographics of its users, a report in October from Piper Sandler found it had become the second-most popular social media app for teenagers in the US, behind Snapchat but ahead of Instagram. Ossoff’s campaign has also made investments in Snapchat  – a platform broadly used by younger people – “to share Ossoff’s life on the campaign trail” ahead of the runoff election, as The Verge reported earlier in December.

“TikTok is one creative element we’re using to speak to young voters about the issues that impact their lives, like stopping the spread of coronavirus, protecting our environment, tackling student loan debt, and passing a New Civil Rights Act,” Lipper said.

 

@jon

##duet with @stanzipotenza Thanks Stanzi for getting out the word – I had to duet. Today is the LAST day to register to vote for the January 5th runoff

♬ original sound – Stanzi

 

Stanzi Potenza, a 25-year-old actor from Boston, made one of the videos Ossoff shared: an 80s-style infomercial that encouraged young Georgians to register to vote.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Potenza said about Ossoff’s pivot to TikTok, adding that “it’s a great way to communicate with younger generations.

“Making an effort to be engaging with younger people will encourage younger people to vote and register to vote and let them know their voice is valuable,” she said.

A popular TikTok presence hasn’t always netted success for candidates

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But whether a large TikTok presence and eager following turn out voters so far remains a mystery, even as the app cements itself as a social-media powerhouse.

Experts who spoke to Insider earlier this year were split about whether candidates would regret ignoring the fast-growing social-media platform. Annie Levene, a partner at the DC-based digital marketing agency Rising Tide Interactive, told Insider in October that TikTok, more than other platforms, required a certain level of authenticity, potentially posing roadblocks to candidates and their social teams.

Candidates like Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, who embraced the platform, successfully won their contentious races for office. Other candidates who amassed TikTok popularity, however, failed to garner the same enthusiasm at the ballot box. 

Self-described socialist Joshua Collins, who made headlines for his TikTok campaign earlier this year, lost his primary US House race in Washington in a landslide. And, Matt Little, a Democrat state senator in Minnesota known to his more than 166,000 TikTok followers as the “Little Senator,” lost his bid for re-election. Kelly Krout, who presently has a TikTok following of over 53,000, similarly lost her bid for the Arkansas State House.  

Whether politicians themselves join the platform, teens and young adults have used TikTok to voice their political concerns and opinions. Videos using #jonossoff, made mostly by creators unaffiliated with his campaign, have amassed approximately 9.9 million views, according to TikTok

Throughout 2020, TikTok has been the subject of numerous bipartisan concerns and political controversy over its parent company, the China-based ByteDance. The concerns bubbled up this summer when President Donald Trump began an attempt to force a sale of TikTok to a US company, or otherwise force it to cease US operations. 

Both presidential hopefuls this year steered clear of TikTok. Trump’s absence from the platform was unsurprising given his months-long, and so far fruitless attempt to ban the Chinese-owned app. But his rival, President-elect Joe Biden was also notably absent from the platform, asking campaign staff to delete the app from their phones, despite the legion of teens and young adults using the platform as unofficial surrogates for his campaign.

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Jon Ossoff debated an empty podium and called Sen. David Perdue a ‘coward’ for skipping the debate one month ahead of the Senate runoff election

ossoff debate georgia runoff
Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff speaks during a debate for U.S. Senate on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Atlanta. Sen. David Perdue declined to attend the debate.

  • Democrat Jon Ossoff debated an empty podium Sunday night in Atlanta, Georgia after his opponent, Republican Sen. David Perdue, declined to participate in the event.
  • Ossoff is challenging Perdue in the Georgia Senate runoff election on January 5, which will determine which party takes control of the US Senate.
  • After sharing what he would’ve asked Perdue had he appeared at the debate, Ossoff said, “If the senator were not too much of a coward to debate in public, then that’s what I’d ask him,” he said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democrat Jon Ossoff debated an empty podium Sunday night in Atlanta, Georgia after his opponent, Republican Sen. David Perdue, declined to participate in the event.

Ossoff is challenging Perdue in the Georgia Senate runoff election on January 5, which will help determine which party takes control of the US Senate.

A debate moderator asked Ossoff what he would’ve asked Perdue had the senator agreed to appear at the debate.

“I think what I would ask him is why he continues to oppose $1200 stimulus checks for the American people at this moment of crisis,” Ossoff said. “Why he fought against them in the first place, and why he isn’t in Washington right now championing direct financial relief.”

“If the senator were not too much of a coward to debate in public, then that’s what I’d ask him,” he said.

Ossoff also said his opponent may be concerned about incriminating himself over personal financial investments that have come under scrutiny. The senator has denied any wrongdoing. 

When Perdue declined to participate in the debate, his campaign manager, Ben Fry, told The Associated Press, “We’ve already had two debates in this election.”

“We’re going to take our message about what’s at stake if Democrats have total control of Congress directly to the people,” he said.

Perdue appeared at a campaign event Saturday night alongside President Donald Trump, who spent much of the time contesting his own election results, and GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is also running in the runoff election.

Unlike Perdue, Loeffler did participate in a debate with her challenger, Democrat Raphael Warnock, on Sunday. She again declined to acknowledge that Trump lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden.

Democrats need to win both runoff races to take control of the Senate, something experts says Biden may need in order to accomplish much of his policy agenda at the outset of his term.

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