Georgia Senate runoff enters final sprint 1 week from election, campaigns bring out the big guns

Trump to hold rally on eve of Georgia Senate runoffs

Reaction from Charlie Hurt, Harold Ford Jr. on ‘The Daily Briefing.’

The Jan. 5 Georgia Senate runoff elections are one week away, and the four campaigns, plus a bevy of outside groups, are in a sprint to the finale of what's been a very long election year.

Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are aiming to hold off Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively, after no candidate got more than 50% of the vote on Nov. 3. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been dropped on ads in what are likely to be two of the most expensive months of nonpresidential politics in American history, with control of the U.S. Senate depending on these two races. 

"This is it. It all comes down to this," Loeffler campaign Communications Director Stephen Lawson said, summing up the campaign's closing message to voters at the end of a race in which the common refrain has been "everything is on the line."

He also teased a number of yet-to-be-announced high-profile speakers. That's in addition to Georgia's highest-profile visitor in the next week, who is already announced: President Trump. 

 "On behalf of two GREAT Senators, @sendavidperdue & @KLoeffler, I will be going to Georgia on Monday night, January 4th., to have a big and wonderful RALLY. So important for our Country that they win!" Trump said in a tweet. 

During a time in which the president has been attacking many Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., an election eve rally with the president could be just what Georiga Republicans need to boost turnout for their candidates. 

Some in the GOP have worried that the battle over alleged voter fraud — and calls by two GOP lawyers to boycott the race — could dampen Republican enthusiasm. But Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Patry Patriots Action, says she's not seen "anything at all to indicate people intend to sit the election out" as her group has hit the campaign trail hard on behalf of Loeffler and Perdue. 

Martin says Tea Party Patriots' grassroots organizing will make more than 1 million phone calls in Georgia in the next week and by Jan. 5 will have sent about 750,000 peer-to-peer text messages through the entire runoff. 

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden, who previously appeared at a drive-in rally for Warnock and Ossoff, made a fundraising pitch for the pair on Monday. He told his supporters the race to "flip the Senate" is "neck and neck." 

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., speaks during a campaign rally outside Adventure Outdoors gun store Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Smyrna, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Added Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: "This is our moment. Let’s give it everything we have."

Harris also appeared at a rally in Georgia ahead of Christmas. 

Democrats have also been seizing on Trump's demands for $2,000 stimulus checks after he panned the government funding and coronavirus stimulus package that Perdue and Loeffler vocally supported. 

"The House is right to vote to increase direct payments for Georgians to $2,000, which even President Trump supports," Warnock said in a statement Tuesday after the body voted with a two-thirds majority to increase the price tag on the checks. "Instead of campaigning around the state and standing in the way of putting more money in the pockets of Georgians impacted by this pandemic, Kelly Loeffler should be in Washington taking up this fight in the Senate."

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jon Ossoff speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Atlanta. He is facing Republican Sen. David Perdue, a top Trump ally, in a Jan. 5, 2021 runoff. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Added Ossoff: "Perdue must reverse his opposition to $2,000 checks and join Democrats, President-elect Biden, and President Trump in immediately supporting $2,000 relief checks for his constituents."

The fight over stimulus checks could drag even closer to Election Day as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has indicated he will filibuster any attempt by the Senate to override Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act until the body addresses the House's bill for $2,000 checks. 

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Among the high-profile events for Democrats, actress Julia Louis Dreyfus and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will be fundraising virtually Tuesday on behalf of Ossoff and Warnock.

Abrams has organized a number of virtual events with Hollywood celebrities in support of the Democrats. And outside Democrat groups like the New Georgia Project and Abrams' Fair Vote are organizing on the ground. New Georgia Project recently ran an ad with Hollywood celebrities America Ferrera and Eva Longoria. 

Ossoff this week is attending a union event in Atlanta and a "Latino meet-and-greet" as well as an "Asian and Pacific Islander meet and greet" in Marietta and Suwanee, respectively. He'll also deliver remarks at a New Year's Eve event in Stonecrest. 

Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Raphael Warnock listens as President-elect Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally for Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Perdue campaign, meanwhile, attacked Ossoff for not attempting to appeal to more rural areas of the state and said some GOP senators will be going to bat for the senator in the final week of the campaign. 

"While Jon Ossoff has barely made it outside of metro Atlanta, Senator Perdue is criss-crossing Georgia on a 125-stop bus tour, visiting communities from Hahira to Hiawassee and everywhere in between," Perdue Communications Director John Burke said. "On top of President Trump's planned visit to Dalton on Monday, the Senator is looking forward to joining several of his Senate colleagues and members of the Trump family on the trail in the coming days as we work to protect the President's America First agenda from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer."

Burke added: "He is focused on making sure every Georgian knows the stakes of this election so that they go out to vote and have their voice be heard."

Some of the GOP senators who have joined Perdue and Loeffler so far on the campaign are Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

In this Oct. 13, 2020, file photo, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during a campaign event in Acworth, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

And more high-profile GOP senators and representatives might return to Georgia in the new year for the Save America Tour — a bus tour organized by a bevy of conservative groups including Club for Growth Action. 

Reps.-elect Burgess Owens, R-Utah, and Lauren Bobert, R-Colo., along with Sarah Palin, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and others appeared at the Save America Tour's pre-Christmas events. 

"God Bless the U.S.A." singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood also participated in one event. 

The stakes of the two Georgia races are essential to whether or not Republicans will be able to thwart any of Biden's agenda, from a public health care option to judicial and executive nominees. 

Republicans currently control 50 Senate seats in the next Congress, meaning that if they win even one of the Georgia races they'll secure a majority in the upper chamber. If Democrats sweep both races, however, they'll bring the body to an effective 50-50 tie, allowing Harris to break any votes that split along party lines.

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