GOP Has Eyes on Georgia as Party Backs Trump on Election Fight

Republican willingness to go along with President Donald Trump’s extended fight over the presidential election may have as much to do with the Georgia runoffs that will determine control of the Senate as with resolving the president’s grievances over the vote count.

Senate Republicans have largely given Trump political cover to challenge Democrat Joe Biden’s victory, avoiding any blowback from president or the millions of GOP voters who are intensely loyal to him. The support of both is particularly important with the balance of power in the Senate at stake in two Georgia runoff contests in January.

“We need his voters,” John Thune, the second-ranking Senate Republican, told reporters Tuesday. “Right now, they’re obviously involved in trying to sort of get through the final stages of his election and determine the outcome there. But when that’s all said and done, however it comes out, we want him helping in Georgia.”

The stakes are high for both parties. If Georgia’s two Republican incumbent senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, win their Jan. 5 runoffs against Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the GOP would keep control of the Senate next year. That would give Republicans essentially veto power over Biden’s legislative initiatives, his cabinet and any court picks. Vice President Mike Pence plans to campaign for the two Republicans later this month.

If Ossoff and Warnock win, the Senate would be 50-50 and Democrats would be in control by virtue of the tie-breaking vote being cast by Kamala Harris as the vice president.

Hand Recount

Perdue and Loeffler have tied themselves closely to Trump, and they’ve joined with the president’s campaign in criticizing Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, setting off an internal party feud in the state.

On Tuesday, the Georgia GOP and Trump, who is trailing Biden in Georgia by about 12,600 votes out of 5 million cast, called for a hand recount and thorough review of all ballots before the election results are certified.

Ari Schaffer, Raffensperger’s press secretary said: “Our office is reviewing these documents and all affidavits once we receive them.”

Thune said Republicans were waiting to see how much Trump will be willing to campaign in person once the presidential election was sorted out. His remarks were reported first by Politico.

University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock, said Perdue and Loeffler’s calculation is obvious.

“They want Trump voters to be there in January. If Trump says the elections are not being fairly handled — then they are going to pile on, even on their own guys,” he said.

Both sides will be relying more on getting their own voters back to the polls for the runoff — the kind of race that often sees a sizable drop-off in participation, historically benefiting Republicans — rather than converting new voters.

“If you can get most of your people back you win,” he said.

— With assistance by Laura Litvan

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