The last eight weeks of American politics have been overwhelmed by Georgia runoff elections to decide which party controls the U.S. Senate — at least for the first two years of a Biden administration.
After 48 hours traipsing around the state, it’s no doubt the stakes here are enormous.
“We are the firewall to socialism. Defending the majority starts right here,” Sen. David Perdue, who’s made over 100 stops across the Peach State, claims. “Momentum is coming our way. But I am not taking anything for granted.”
Ossoff’s ads targeting Perdue focus on the Republican’s stock portfolio while in office.
“Perhaps Senator Perdue would have been able to respond properly to the COVID-19 pandemic if you hadn’t been fending off multiple federal investigations for insider trading,” the challenger says.
The Perdue campaign counters by saying the senator was “totally exonerated” by multiple investigations earlier this year.
Last month, a conservative columnist deemed Ossoff “one of those shiny, young Democrats who is essentially an empty vessel into which blue state donors can pour money and Chuck Schumer can pour leftism. He tries to play moderate but he’ll dance to whoever is playing the tune.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution confessed Ossoff is “more unapologetic about embracing liberal policy ideas than his Democratic predecessors during past statewide races.”
Ossoff hails from a privileged background. He attended top private schools before heading to Georgetown University and London School of Economics. His father is a longtime Democrat donor. Five in six of his donations come from out of state. The 33-year-old technocrat’s website bio claims he’s a “media executive, investigative journalist and small business owner” for a London-based company. Ossoff unsurprisingly gets the preponderance of support from campus progressives and wealthy whites, but doesn’t resonate as well with rural Georgians, blacks, Hispanics (Perdue received 45% of the Hispanic vote) and immigrant groups.
“If Schumer becomes majority leader, socialism will be pushed on America; if McConnell remains in charge, Republicans can stop their plans, right?” a hardscrabble fellow in Dalton, where President Donald Trump will be Monday, told me. “If Democrats get power, what incentive would Biden have to work across the aisle? The hard Left won’t compromise. Holding the senate is where we hold the line and that’s why I am voting for the Republicans.”
Despite being a sitting senator, Perdue says he’s a political outsider. The 71 year-old came to Washington six years ago “to change the direction of our country” after four decades of business leadership, including as CEO of Dollar General. Born in Macon to schoolteachers, Perdue grew up on a farm and earned degrees in industrial engineering and operations research from Georgia Tech. He supports term limits and tackling the debt crisis.
“I am a proud veteran, so I am disappointed the president vetoed the NDAA,” a youngish man in Dallas, a small town west of Atlanta, said. “I haven’t heard Ossoff or Warnock say much about military spending. The more extreme politicians also call for defunding the police when our country faces civil unrest. We need change and reform but not elimination. I don’t really love any candidate, so my vote will be a game-time decision.”
More than 2.5 million Georgians have already voted, including nearly 80,000 who didn’t vote in the general election. The race will shatter turnout records and fundraising for a runoff election in the state. Georgia voters don’t register by party, so despite prognostications, we don’t know which side has an edge thus far.
Atlanta radio host Erick Erickson noted Wednesday, “Democrats tend to have closer relationships with the press and will share data more freely. The data skew their way and reporters regurgitate the inside scoop then push back against anyone challenging the prevailing narrative.”
In the end, both campaigns agree turnout (and honesty) could be the deciding factor.
“We are working hard because this race is will decide our country’s political fate,” Cookie Wozniak of the Floyd County Republican Party said to me. “We need only legal votes to count, especially the mail-in votes. We also need high turnout and poll watchers.”