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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Dow, S&P 500 add to records as weak jobs report boosts stimulus expectations

NYSE Trader Blur
  • US equities gained on Friday morning as the weak jobs report spurred investors hopes for a larger fiscal stimulus package to boost the economy.
  • American businesses shed 140,000 nonfarm payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. The reading is weaker than consensus economist estimates that foresaw 50,000 job additions, according to Bloomberg data. 
  • “In the face of endless amounts of readily available fiscal and monetary stimulus, the stock market has so far refused to pay attention to the economic data points that matter, like the weak jobs numbers,” James McDonald, Hercules Investments CEO said.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities gained on Friday morning as the weak jobs report prompted investors to hope for a larger fiscal stimulus package to boost the economy.

The US economy saw a surprise decline in payrolls in December as stricter COVID-19 lockdown measures extended the nation’s unemployment crisis into the new year. American businesses shed 140,000 nonfarm payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. The reading is weaker than consensus economist estimates that foresaw 50,000 job additions, according to Bloomberg data. 

The country’s unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.7% in December, slightly lower than the median economist estimate of 6.8%.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Friday:

Read more: A growth-fund manager who’s beaten 96% of his peers over the past 5 years shares 6 stocks he sees ‘dominating their space’ for the next 5 to 10 years – including 2 he thinks could grow 100%

“In the face of endless amounts of readily available fiscal and monetary stimulus, the stock market has so far refused to pay attention to the economic data points that matter, like the weak jobs numbers,” James McDonald, Hercules Investments CEO said.

“We expect stock markets to continue to move higher and bond markets to continue to move lower (price down, yields up) as the likelihood of additional fiscal stimulus out of Washington is high and the continued support of the Federal Reserve is likely as well,” said Chris Zaccarelli, Chief Investment Officer for Independent Advisor Alliance. 

Bitcoin hit a new all-time high of more than $41,000 on Friday morning, staging a rapid recovery despite falling to less than $37,000 overnight. The red-hot cryptocurrency has more than doubled in value over the last month, and risen over 30% in 2021 so far.  

Michael Burry, whose lucrative wager on the US housing bubble’s collapse in 2007 was captured in “The Big Short,” tweeted on Thursday that Tesla stock could implode in a similar fashion. 

“Well, my last Big Short got bigger and bigger and BIGGER too,” the Scion Asset Management boss said as Tesla jumped 8%. “Enjoy it while it lasts.”

Read more: BANK OF AMERICA: Buy these 8 US stocks poised to soar in the first quarter of 2021- and avoid these 2 at all costs

Meanwhile, billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya said Tesla’s stock could be worth three times its current valuation, which would make CEO Elon Musk the first trillionaire.

“Don’t sell a share” of Tesla, Palihapitiya told investors in a CNBC interview on Thursday

Gold dipped 2%, to $1,876.51, at intraday lows. The US dollar strengthened against most of its Group-of-10 currency peers, while 10-year Treasury yields climbed further above 1%, where they haven’t been since March.

Oil prices climbed amid a drop in US inventories. West Texas Intermediate crude rose as much as 2%, to $51.83 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, gained 2.1%, to $55.50 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Read more: Deutsche Bank says buy these 14 beaten-down financial stocks poised for a bullish recovery from 2020’s ‘savage sell-off’ – including one that could rally 30%

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Following in Stacey Abrams’s footsteps, these Spelman College students are rallying young people to vote in Georgia Senate runoffs

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Stacey Abrams, Nia Dumas, Deja Mason, Aiyana Edwards

  • In a few days, the Georgia runoff elections on January 5 will decide what party takes control of the US Senate. 
  • When Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992, many attributed the flip to Stacey Abrams.
  • Business Insider spoke to students at Spelman College, a top HBCU based in Atlanta, who described how their alumna Abrams inspired them to rally young voters to turn out for the runoff elections. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For 20-year-old Deja Mason, a junior at Spelman, this period in the year is a weird “in-between time.”

Finals are over; people are on winter break. But as part of the New Voters Project, a non-partisan program to encourage young voter turnout,  Mason said she has spent her free time between her virtual classes in the fall semester trying to get her peers to turn out and cast their ballots. With just days left until the contentious Georgia Senate runoffs, she’s reaching out to make sure these voters “have a vote plan,” she said. 

A supporter of Stacey Abrams holds a sign thanking her during a celebration of Democratic nominee Joe Biden's projected presidential win at Freedom Park on November 7, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia
A supporter of Stacey Abrams holds a sign thanking her during a celebration of Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s projected presidential win at Freedom Park on November 7, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia

The Georgia Senate runoffs will decide what party takes control of the Senate, and if Republicans win just one of the two races, President-elect Joe Biden will be the first president since 1989 to not have their party in control of both chambers of Congress. 

Following the November election where Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992, Stacey Abrams was credited for the flip, as she helped register 800,000 new voters through Fair Fight, a voting rights organization founded by the former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee after her loss in the 2018 midterm elections.

For Mason, Spelman alumna like Abrams, who graduated in 1995, and other women of color in politics energized her to volunteer and encourage young voters to turnout in the Senate runoff elections. 

“I feel Black women, especially such as Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams,” Mason said, “they just give me a lot of inspiration because it shows that I can do what they’re doing.” 

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Deja Mason

Nia Dumas, a junior studying political science at Spelman, echoed Mason’s sentiments. 

“Spelman College is an HBCU for Black women. It’s a place where you can really thrive, and as a Spelman student, I feel like it’s given me that space where I can just be myself without having to worry about outside influences and things like that,” she told Business Insider. “So when all of these Spelman women are together and trying to advocate for change, it pushes you and it inspires you.” 

In a video posted on Spelman’s website for voter resources, Abrams speaks directly to current students: “I was 17, ready to change the world, and I knew Spelman would be a part of it.”

“When I was 17, I set up my first voter registration table helping sign up people to vote long before I was able to do so,” she continues. “I’m proud of who you are – I’m proud that you have chosen to become Spelman women,” Abrams added.

Dumas, who also spent the semester virtually from home roughly a 50 minutes’ drive outside of Atlanta, leads Spelman’s Fair Fight chapter, excited to work for an “organization that was literally there to fight voter suppression, and its CEO was an alumna of my college,” she said. 

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Nia Dumas

The young voters that Dumas and Mason are reaching out to has proven to be an increasingly formidable voting bloc. Young voter turnout in the 2020 election was much larger than four years ago: around 42 to 44% of voters under 30 turned out for the 2016 election, whereas between 52 to 55% of this group turned out for the 2020 election, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at Tufts University. In Georgia, voters under the age of 30 counted for 20% of all votes cast, according to Tufts University.

“I think young voters understand that if we don’t decide for ourselves, someone else will decide for us,” Dumas said. “The policies and the legislations and things that are going into action now – if they don’t affect us now, they will affect us in the years to come.”

Aiyana Edwards, who is in her second year at Spelman, told Business Insider she has been working through RISE, a student advocacy organization, to encourage young people online to make a plan to vote. In the November election, she said she also worked as a poll monitor as part of the Election Protection Coalition.

Edwards said that seeing Abrams’ work meant “seeing a Black woman have the opportunity to create her own organization to increase the participation in Georgia,” which was inspiring. 

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Aiyana Edwards

In a historic record, about 3 million people have already cast their ballots, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. With a few days left before the election on Jan. 5, Edwards, Dumas, and Mason are making a final push for young voters.

Mason, in an appeal to them, said she can understand if they’re tired by the continuous political messages ahead of the election. 

“There is so much weighing on us,” she said, but “using your vote and making sure your voice is heard is extremely significant.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Georgia’s Senate races became the most expensive ever

  • The 2020 Georgia Senate races are the most expensive in US history.
  • More than $480 million has been spent on ad placement in the runoff elections, and that’s just since Election Day.
  • The cost of running a political campaign in the US has been growing steadily over the past decade due to the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Just since Election Day, Georgia Senate candidates and outside groups have spent $480 million on advertising, according to AdImpact. That’s more than the Trump campaign spent on the entire 2016 presidential run, according to OpenSecrets. 

“The Senate majority is hanging in the balance, and every outside group worth its salt is going to want to get in on that action and try to make a dent with ad spending,” BI politics reporter Jake Lahut said. 

 

Campaign spending in the US has skyrocketed during the last decade. And it continued to break records in 2020, with nine of the 10 most expensive Senate races of all time, according to OpenSecrets. 

 

A tight election in November forced a runoff for both of Georgia’s Senate seats. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are the Republican incumbents, up against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in races that have major national implications. If both Democrats win, it will flip the Senate to blue and give Democrats control of the executive and legislative branches of government. 

 

The $480 million spent on ad placement since Election Day doesn’t even factor in the other costs that go into a political campaign.

 

“You’ve got polling, you’ve got lawyers’ fees, you’ve got compliance,” said Will Ritter, cofounder and CEO of Poolhouse, an advertising firm that works with Repulican campaigns and outside groups. “And then an ad itself has a lot of professionals that work on it as well.”

 

These numbers dwarf what’s spent on politics in other democracies. Political parties in Canada were capped at spending $29 million last year, according to CBC.

 

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that political spending was protected as a form of free speech. That meant corporations and other outside groups could spend as much money as they wanted, as long as they didn’t coordinate with campaigns.

In Georgia, only about half of the spending on ads is coming from the candidates themselves. The rest of the money is pouring in from groups across the country.

 

“Everybody who is interested in the control of the US government is going to be putting their money and their effort into Georgia,” Ritter said, “because it all comes down to this.”

 

Even with the rise in digital media, TV is still the best way to reach voters. And in 2020, Facebook and Google banned political ads on their platforms from Election Day through mid-December. That made TV even more crucial in the Georgia runoffs.

 

In the 2020 elections, TV had more influence on voters than all other media combined. That includes radio, social media, mail, and 20 other categories.

 

“If you think of the last TV ad you saw that you liked, now tell me the last banner ad online that you saw,” Ritter said. “Right? I mean, there’s just less of an impact.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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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The US Postal Service is pulling out all the stops to rush mail-in ballots for the Georgia runoff election

Georgia mail-in ballots election voting
Officials work on ballots at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Headquarters, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Lawrenceville, near Atlanta.

  • The USPS has agreed to take several measures to ensure mail-in ballots arrive on time ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff election, The Washington Post reported. 
  • As part of the agreement between the agency and civil rights groups, the US Postal Service will treat ballots as express mail if they are in a processing plant within three days of the January 5 election. 
  • The postal service has been struggling to keep up with massive volumes of mail this year. 
  • The agency said delays are due to the pandemic, with almost a quarter of its employees out sick or in quarantine. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Postal Service agreed to adopt measures to speed up ballot processing and delivery ahead of the Georgia runoff elections after discussions with civil rights groups, The Washington Post reported. 

The organization agreed to treat ballots as express mail if they were still in a processing plant in the three days before the election. That means mail-in ballots would be delivered the next day. Additionally, ballots being sent from a New York printer to the state would be fast-tracked, and the postal service will sweep facilities to ensure no ballots are misplaced. 

In Atlanta, the USPS agreed to skip the processing plants and directly send the ballots to vote-counting centers. 

The new policy is a result of challenges from groups like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Vote Forward.

The Atlanta voting district has seen a low rate of ballots arriving on time to mail processing centers, The Post reported. Only 80.4% of the over 150,000 mail ballots in that district that have already been processed were on time, but experts told the newspaper that the rate should be closer to 97%. 

Across the country, a record number of mail-in-ballots was recorded during the November general election, and civil rights groups expect Georgia, and especially the Atlanta area, which is the most populous and diverse, to also surpass its own records during the runoffs. 

Two Democrats, Raphael Warnock, and Jon Ossoff are working to unseat Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

This also comes amid high scrutiny of the US Postal Service, after it determined it would have a hard time delivering an avalanche of packages by Christmas. In some cases, mail parcels are stacked so high that it’s difficult for employees to walk around, packages are sitting on trucks for several days waiting to be sorted, and employees are working as many as 80 hours per week. 

The agency has said the delays are due to the coronavirus pandemic. Almost 25% or 19,000 of the agency’s 644,000 workers are sick or in isolation due to COVID-19. 

“Amid the historic volume, the Postal Service continues to flex its network, including making sure the right equipment is available to sort, process, and deliver a historic volume of mail and packages this holiday season,” Kim Frum, a spokesperson for the Postal Service told Insider.

“Our entire Operations team, from collections to processing to delivery, worked throughout this past weekend and continues to work around the clock to address the historic volume.”

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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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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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‘Numbers come out of ceilings and come out of leather bags’: Trump assails vote integrity in Georgia using debunked claims of fraud

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

  • At a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, on Saturday, President Donald Trump assailed the state’s vote integrity, using debunked claims of fraud to accuse officials of allowing vote counts to be compromised.
  • “You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Trump said to the jubilant crowd, despite his clear statewide loss to President-elect Joe Biden.
  • Throughout the night, the president continued to echo debunked claims of voting fraud.
  • “All I can do is campaign and then I wait for the numbers,” he added. “When the numbers come out of ceilings and come out of leather bags, you start to say, ‘What’s going on?'”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

At a boisterous rally in Valdosta, Georgia, on Saturday, President Donald Trump assailed the state’s vote integrity, using debunked claims of fraud to accuse officials of allowing vote counts to be compromised, while simultaneously imploring Republicans to come out to support GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the January 2021 Senate runoffs.

The duality of the proposition made Trump’s plea even more incredulous.

Trump started out his speech claiming victory in Georgia, a false statement that belies President-elect Joe Biden’s nearly 13,000-vote win and the November 20 certification of the Democratic statewide victory.

“You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Trump said to the jubilant crowd.

Trump quickly shifted to his unfounded claims of coordinated voter fraud, which have been rejected by everyone from local voting officials to GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

“We’re fighting very hard for this state, when you look at all of the corruption and all of the problems that have to do with this election,” Trump said.

The president then brought up a false claim about ballot-stuffed suitcases that were included in the vote tally. According to the Associated Press, “surveillance footage of ballot processing on election night in Atlanta is fueling a false social media narrative of ‘suitcases filled with ballots’ hidden under a cloth-covered table and tallied without supervision, even as top state officials confirm election workers followed standard procedure.”

Georgia officials have said that state investigators watched the entirety of the hours-long surveillance footage and determined that it showed “normal ballot processing” and no wrongdoing or irregularities.

Trump tweeted the aforementioned video and played the footage during the Saturday night rally, showing ballot containers on wheels being used by election workers, which is not an uncommon practice. Yet, the president insisted on pushing fraud theories despite election officials insisting that there were no irregularities.

“All I can do is campaign and then I wait for the numbers,” he added. “When the numbers come out of ceilings and come out of leather bags, you start to say, ‘What’s going on?'”

Trump has been dealt a litany of election-related court losses in swing states across the country over the past month, including Georgia.

Despite the president’s last-ditch plea to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp to call a special legislative session that would appoint Trump-backed electors and his relentless attacks against voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems, he still urged voters to support Loeffler and Perdue next month.

“I want to stay on presidential,” Trump said early in his speech. “But I got to get to these two.”

Trump lauded the GOP senators for advancing his agenda, including COVID-19 relief spending earlier this year. But his sense of grievance was never too far away.

“Let them steal Georgia again, you’ll never be able to look yourself in the mirror,” Trump said to the rallygoers.

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Trump compared the Democratic Party to the MS-13 gang at a Georgia rally

Donald-Trump-face
President Donald Trump.

  • President Donald Trump on Saturday compared the Democratic Party to the street gang MS-13 at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, part of his latest barrage of insults lobbed at the the party that denied him a second term in the White House.
  • “We moved thousands and thousands of MS-13 the hell out of our country,” Trump said. “They’re vicious, but they’re not stupid. Sort of like the Democrats if you think about it.”
  • Trump was headlining a rally for GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who face stiff challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the January 2021 Senate runoff elections.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump on Saturday compared the Democratic Party to the street gang MS-13 at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, part of his latest barrage of insults lobbed at the the party that denied him a second term in the White House.

Trump, headlining a rally for GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who face stiff challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the January 2021 Senate runoff elections, compared the party that he has battled over his nearly four years in office to a notorious gang that has infiltrated many American cities and suburbs.

The president accused Democrats of wanting to implement so-called sanctuary cities, localities where officials have declined to cooperate with federal authorities in turning over immigrants who have been identified or targeted for deportation, which he said would attract criminals. 

“That’s what they [Democrats] want,” Trump said. “Freeing criminal aliens and MS-13 gang members – the most vicious people … They like using knives … To wreak havoc and terror upon innocent families. We moved thousands and thousands of MS-13 the hell out of our country. Some we put in prison because they’re too dangerous. They’re not stupid. They’re vicious, but they’re not stupid. Sort of like the Democrats if you think about it.”

While Trump has consistently used law and order messaging to assail Democrats on policing and border security, his dark tone carried over to ominous warnings about gun rights.

President-elect Joe Biden has backed an array of gun safety measures over the course of his career, but he has never supported a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Nonetheless, Trump warned that if Democrat were to control the Senate, they would “confiscate privately owned firearms” and “totally cut up your Second Amendment rights.”

With control of the Senate on the line with the two Georgia races, Trump is attempting to influence one last part of his legacy before he leaves office in January.

If Democrats can pick up both Senate seats, they’ll split the chamber 50-50, but Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote would give the party majority control, allowing them to control the Senate legislative agenda for the first time since 2015. They would then have the ability to confirm Biden’s Cabinet and judicial nominees.

With Republicans in control of the chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be a check on the Biden administration, holding up Cabinet nominees that the party finds objectionable and more than likely tabling the president-elect’s most ambitious legislative items.

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