Perdue voting in Capitol this week as runoff challenger Ossoff asks where senator is

Balance of power in Senate rests on Georgia’s runoff elections

Fox News correspondent Jonathan Serrie has the latest from Atlanta on ‘Special Report’

Sen. David Perdue, who is in one of two fierce runoff elections scheduled for Jan. 5 in Georgia has been working in the U.S. Capitol this week as Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff has repeatedly asked where the senator is during a hiatus from the campaign trail.

Perdue, R-Ga., voted in the Senate, which must be done in-person, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, as the races got underway this week.

A rally Wednesday at which Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stumped for Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., who is facing her own runoff challenge, marked the first major GOP event of the runoff campaign. Loeffler and Perdue's wife, Bonnie, were there with Rubio, but the Georgia senator, who was in Washington, D.C., was not. 

"Has anyone seen Senator David Perdue? It's been seven days since the majority of Georgians stood up and denied his request for reelection," Ossoff said in a video of a campaign event posted on Wednesday. "But we the people are here tonight organizing and preparing to vote in unprecedented numbers."

Ossoff said in a subsequent tweet showing him with a dog: "This doggo has made more public appearances this week than David Perdue."

"It's shameful to see Ossoff criticize Senator Perdue for doing his duty and working to pass much-needed COVID-19 relief for Georgians. It's clear that Ossoff cares only about giving Chuck Schumer total control of our Senate and not about helping Georgia families," John Burke, the communications director for Perdue's campaign, said in a statement.  

Ossoff added in a Thursday tweet: "Georgians are hurting, and Senator Perdue is nowhere to be found. We deserve better."

That tweet was posted just moments after a procedural vote was opened on the Senate floor on the nomination of Aileen Mercedes Cannon to be a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida. Perdue was a "yea" on the cloture motion, setting up a confirmation vote on Cannon later in the afternoon. Perdue also voted for Cannon's confirmation later Thursday, which passed. 

"Are you serious with this?" Matt Whitlock, a senior adviser to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in response to Ossoff's Thursday tweet. "You’re running for the Senate and you don’t understand that when it’s in session Senators are in Washington?"

"It has been 9 days since a majority of Georgians rejected David Perdue's agenda," an Ossoff spokesperson said Thursday. "He clearly feels no obligation to make his case to earn their votes, and hiding behind a vote schedule when the whole world knows how to Zoom is a pathetic excuse from a politician too weak to defend his record."

"Jon Ossoff may not understand what having a real job is like, since he’s never had one, but it's David Perdue’s job to represent the people of Georgia as their Senator," Burke also said.

Ossoff was a national security aide to Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson before becoming CEO of Insight TWI, an investigative journalism company. Ossoff's role in that media company has come under scrutiny during the campaign for business it previously did with a media firm partially owned by the Chinese government. 

Loeffler, who has appeared in public more than Perdue in recent days, voted in the Senate on Monday and Tuesday as well before appearing at the Wednesday rally, which came under scrutiny for a lack of masks and social distancing. Loeffler did not vote on Thursday, having apparently remained in Georgia ahead of a Friday rally with Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.


Perdue's and Loeffler's votes on Monday and Tuesday were also on a judicial nomination, specifically cloture and final confirmation for James Ray Knepp II to be seated in the Northern District of Ohio. Meanwhile, the Senate is working on coronavirus relief, which appears to still be hung up in negotiations. 

The two Senate runoffs are set to determine control of the Senate for the first two years of the Biden presidency, making the showdowns highly consequential for the potential success of a Biden agenda. This includes Cabinet nominations, judicial nominations, Biden's plan to add a public option to the Affordable Care Act, roll back the 2017 tax cuts and more. 

"Democratic Senate control means that we are able to strengthen and build on the Affordable Care Act and deliver COVID relief for Georgians," one Ossoff campaign adviser told Fox News on the stakes of the election. 

"Everything is on the line in Georgia," Casey Black, the senior spokeswoman for the Perdue campaign, said Thursday. "A vote for Jon Ossoff is a vote to hand total control of Congress to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi."

Fox News' Jason Donner contributed to this report. 

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