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

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Police say missing man Daniel Fortin, 55, is high-risk. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Daniel Fortin, 55, last seen in Victoria March 1

Anyone who sees Fortin asked to call 911

Walkers ascend Mount Douglas Park on Sunday, Feb. 7. Visits to Saanich Parks are up 46 per cent compared to pre-pandemic statistics this time last year. (Darrell Wick Photo)
Oak Bay, Saanich parks peak in popularity during pandemic

Oak Bay spent an extra $5,000 on park toilet paper in 2020

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Cleanup happens after an overnight flood Monday damaged areas of the Oaklands Community Centre. (Facebook/Oaklands Community Association)
Greater Victorians offer flood of support to Oaklands Community Centre

Blown hot water tank Monday night leaves staff cleaning up soggy mess

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Vancouver Island RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Most Read