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

Pea sized hail rained from the skies in Prince Rupert on Nov. 30 leaving roads covered in a sheet of ice. (Photo; K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Large hail caused icy conditions in Prince Rupert

High wind warnings in effect for North Coast and Haida Gwaii

The Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is now 75 per cent complete, announced Prince Rupert Port Authority on Nov. 30. (Photo: supplied by PRPA)
Crews are working 24 hours a day to complete vital infrastructure road in Prince Rupert

Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is 75% complete announced Prince Rupert Port Authority

Illustration courtesy Pacific Northern Gas
Illustration shows what’s involved with the plan by Pacific Northern Gas to expand the capacity of its natural gas line serving the northwest.
LNG projects hold out potential for lower gas user rates

LNG plants planned for Port Edward and Terrace

Prince Rupert carving artist Henry Kelly is having his work installed on Nov. 20, as a permanent art exhibit at the Prince Rupert Regional Airport. The traditional cedar canoe is a welcome symbol to those arriving at YPR. (Photo: supplied)
Art unveiling ceremonies at YPR cancelled due to new pandemic restrictions

Coast Tsimshian Cultural Exhibit at Prince Rupert Regional Airport features local carvers

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Most Read