A supporter looks on as Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate John Ossoff bumps elbows with others as he tries to rally support for a run-off against Republican candidate Sen. David Perdue, as they meet in Grant Park, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Atlanta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /John Amis

A supporter looks on as Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate John Ossoff bumps elbows with others as he tries to rally support for a run-off against Republican candidate Sen. David Perdue, as they meet in Grant Park, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Atlanta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /John Amis

Georgia’s Senate runoffs, Trump’s intransigence keep U.S. political suspense going

The presidential race generated record turnout across the country

There’s good news in Georgia for anyone still craving high-stakes U.S. election suspense following Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Control of the Senate remains up for grabs: Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will both face run-off elections Jan. 5 against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

“Everyone else has hung up their cleats, but we’re still playing,” said Charles Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Runoffs occur in certain states when candidates fail to reach a prescribed vote threshold — 50 per cent in Georgia.

A run-off was expected in the case of Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat last year to fill a vacancy and was challenged in the special election by fellow Republican Doug Collins, dividing the vote.

At last count, Perdue had a lead of more than 100,000 votes over Ossoff with almost all the votes counted, but remained just below the 50 per cent bar required for outright victory.

The GOP appears poised to claim Alaska and North Carolina, the two other states with Senate seats still up in the air, but would remain one shy of the 51 needed for control of the Senate and the ability to severely hamstring the Biden administration.

A 50-50 draw would effectively hand control to the Democrats, since it will fall to vice-president-elect Kamala Harris to break any ties once she and Biden take office.

The outcome in the Senate, and indeed the composition of Capitol Hill more broadly, is an issue of great interest to Canada’s diplomatic corps in Washington, since members of Congress are a vital vector for advancing Canadian interests.

But the election hasn’t caused the embassy to break stride, said Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador.

“We are continuing to work on files with the U.S. government all the time,” Hillman said in an interview.

“Even last week, while everybody was focused on how the election was turning out both in the White House and in Congress, we were doing business.”

VIDEO: Justin Trudeau first leader to talk to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden

While the odds and history would appear to favour the Republicans in Georgia, long a reliably conservative state, 2020 has already thrown its share of curveballs.

In a presidential race that generated record turnout across the country, Biden narrowly carried Georgia, becoming only the third Democrat after Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to do so in the last half-century.

Having not one but two high-profile races still ongoing in the state could juice turnout in January, a rarity for runoffs. So too could the fact Warnock is vying to become the first Black Democrat to be elected to the Senate from the Deep South.

“In the past, what has happened has been that dropout among African Americans has been greater than among whites, so his presence there may work to the advantage of Democrats,” Bullock said.

Loeffler, who has the backing of prominent Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, may also face bad blood among Georgia Republicans after her bruising battle with Collins, he added.

“She’s got to try to reunite the Republican party,” Bullock said. “Sure, Doug has endorsed her, but it may be hard for some of his supporters to forgive her for the kinds of attacks that she launched against Doug.”

Biden played down the drama Tuesday, insisting that while a Democratic majority in the Senate would be helpful, it’s by no means a deal-breaker.

I am not a pessimist, as you know,” he said. “I think we can get a lot done.”

On Monday, the family feud in Georgia became even more intriguing when Loeffler and Perdue called for the resignation of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, accusing him of somehow botching the electoral process.

“That is not going to happen,” Raffensperger shot back in a statement. “The voters of Georgia hired me, and the voters will be the ones to fire me.”

The election in the state was a “resounding success,” he added, with minimal wait times despite record turnout and an unimpeachable counting and reporting process, Any illegal voting will be investigated, he promised, but it’s “unlikely” it affected the outcome.

“My job is to follow Georgia law and see to it that all legal votes, and no illegal votes, are counted properly and accurately,” he said.

“As a Republican, I am concerned about Republicans keeping the U.S. Senate. I recommend that Sens. Loeffler and Perdue start focusing on that.”

Regardless of the outcome in January, it’s a safe bet Congress will pose a challenge to the Biden administration, despite the former senator’s relationship with Republican leader McConnell, Bullock said.

“It’s going to be frustrating for the progressives that the strides they would like to see taken on the environment or whatever else simply aren’t going to happen,” he said.

“There’s talk that it may boil down to negotiation between the president and Mitch McConnell … but again, that would also be the case if there were 51 Democrats.”

James McCarten, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpJoe BidenUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jovin Walkus and Alayah Mack enjoy the Centennial Pool in summer 2020. (Geneva Walkus photo)
CCRD receives more funding for Centennial Pool project

The total funding for the project is now over $4 million

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read