By Bill Barrow, Jonathan LEMIRE and Alan Fram, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) – President Donald Trump will not be on the ballot in January when Georgia voters settle two Senate runaways that would determine control of the US Senate. But both Republicans and Democrats are expecting voters to forget this.
After seeing an increase in turnout in last week’s elections, the parties are banking on using Trump – both anger against him and devotion to him – as key drivers to get voters back in the election. For Republicans, that meant feeding frustration over Trump’s defeat, unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud and fear of the agenda of President-elect Joe Biden’s policy. But his biggest draw – Trump himself – has yet to publicly commit to using his influence to exclude voters, a silence that has worried some Republicans.
Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping to maintain the intensity of a geo-operation fueling opposition to Trump and his policies – even if the president has lost the White House.
The two Senate contests offer an early measurement of Trump’s enduring political imprint and whether both parties can maintain momentum in the post-Trump era.
The President’s plans are still unclear. As he has said about his loss, he has been quietly silent over the runoff between Republican censors David Pardew and Kyle Loeffler and their respective challengers John Osoff and Rafael Warnock. The president is mainly focused on his own political future, with the possibility of running for president again in 2024, according to three White House and campaign aides who spoke on condition of anonymity because of private deliberations Were not authorized to speak publicly.
GOP allies are urging him to engage, hoping he sees the race as a way to reduce his losses and preserve his policies.
Republican strategist Scott Jennings, a longtime political adviser to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, said, “I can’t think of a better way to get those two seats to get revenge from the Democrats.”
Kentucky Republicans need Perdue or Loeffler to win a reunion to secure a GOP majority that would allow him to block Biden’s most ambitious proposals, such as expanding the Affordable Care Act, overhaul the nation’s energy grid Doing and some Trump tax cuts.
Two Democratic victories would lead to a 50–50 Senate, with Kamala Harris being elected to the Vice President. It would tilt the chamber for Democrats and assure that Biden’s agenda would be at least a Senate hearing under Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Some in the White House see Georgia as one final stand for a political campaign wounded by national rejection. Vice President Mike Pence is out to campaign in Georgia next week, with Purdue’s campaign confirming in a statement Thursday that the senator would welcome “Trump” anytime.
Yet Trump’s advisers are not sure if the president will hold any one-man rallies with either Perdue or Loeffler, both staged in Georgia in the closing days of his own campaign blitz. He said the president valued the loyalty of Georgia senators and noted when Perdue openly mocked Harris’ maiden name at Trump’s rally in October.
Republican senators have not yet asked the president for travel directly to the White House with knowledge of the campaign, who were not authorized to discuss the private campaign plan and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Republicans note that a push from Trump may be necessary to overcome a well-financed Democratic infrastructure in Georgia, which, after years of organizing, will finally push the GOP’s stronghold into a battleground Changed. The results are not yet substantiated, and the likelihood of a possible hand recount is slim, but Biden voted Trump about 14,000 out of the 5 million cast.
Neither Osoff nor Warnock matched Biden’s vote totals as a source of encouragement for Republicans. But GOP players also credit Trump with a surge in votes in rural and small towns, more than Biden’s strength in cities and suburbs.
Trump, in fact, won more Georgia votes than any Republican in history, and Republicans admitted they have no idea what a runoff vote would look like without a president in the mix.
Another McConnell aide, Josh Holmes, said “he is the dominant figure in Republican politics,” adding that many GOP voters “have been uniquely accessed by President Trump that is difficult for Republicans to get out” otherwise.
Perhaps most worrying for Republicans is that Trump has not neglected Georgia since Election Day. It has involved the state in many places where it alleges, without proof, widespread voter fraud and tabulation errors. Yet when Perdue and Loeffler led Trump by suggesting his race was flawed, the Republican Republicans of Georgia did not specifically join his demand for the resignation of the Secretary of State.
McConnell has not called on the president to accept Biden, whom some Republicans see as a passage for the Senate leader, to ensure he does not get angry at the president’s base in Georgia.
For now, both incumbents and their Democratic rivals have largely avoided direct mention of Trump, instead focusing on Senate control.
Loeffler campaigned with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday without naming Trump. Instead he warned of a “socialist” path to the country if he lost Warnock and Perdue Ossoff. Nor is the Democrat Socialist.
To be sure, Democrats cannot be assured of mimicking Biden’s 2.5 million vote hall. Republicans have recently dominated statewide runoff in Georgia, proving to be more adept at getting their key supporters back in the election. But in 2018, during the Trump midterm elections, Democrats set their previous record for voting, captured a suburban Atlanta congressional seat and elected Stacey Abrams as the first black female governor in American history.
Since 2018, Georgia’s Democrats and aligning groups, including the Abrams Fair Fight, have registered hundreds of thousands of new voters. A Fair Fight spokesman said Thursday that by the end of this week, 2 million Democratic-leaning voters have been briefed about obtaining absentee ballots for runoff.
“The fact is there are votes for both parties,” said Chip Lake, a Republican adviser who worked for the USPR. Doug Collins said in his unsuccessful bid for a runoff spot that Loeffler had a claim against Warnock. “It’s just a matter of who goes and votes them again.”
Debbie Dole, a National Tea Party leader and early in Trump’s 2016 candidacy, is leading a rally in the Georgia Capitol on Friday to show support for the president’s legal challenges to the presidential election – a case that More important than the Senate. runoffs. But, “if Trump falls short,” he said, Biden’s refusal from the Democratic Senate becomes an “immediate” priority.
Trump said, it could happen.
“Voters inspired voters in elections,” Dole said. “Fear and anger. Donald Trump can drive that. If he lost, he would go nowhere. He will remain on the scene. He would consolidate control, and he would become more powerful in the party than the people.
Lemaire reported from New York. Fram reported from Washington.
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