Biden Savors Victory, Hails Georgia Duo in Bid to Swing Senate

President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on behalf of two Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia on Tuesday, an appearance that highlights the importance of the contests on his first-term agenda with control of the U.S. Senate at stake.

“I need two senators from this state who want to get something done, not two senators who are just going to get in the way,” Biden said at a drive-in rally in Atlanta that honked its approval. “Because look, getting nothing done just hurts Georgia.”

On Jan. 5, Georgia will settle its two Senate races from the Nov. 3 election, both of which went into runoffs. Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is being challenged by Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff is challenging Republican Senator David Perdue.

That Biden is even welcome in Georgia reflects a change in the state’s Democratic politics, which for years tried to distance itself from the national party. But with Biden’s narrow victory there in November and Democrats aiming to turn out their base voters, Ossoff and Warnock are embracing him -- and he’s eagerly approaching his last shot to get the Senate on his side in January.

Biden Savors Victory, Hails Georgia Duo in Bid to Swing Senate

“I have to say it feels pretty good,” he said. “I think all of you just taught Donald Trump a lesson in this election. Georgia wasn’t going to be bullied, Georgia wasn’t going to be silent, Georgia certainly wasn’t going to stand by and let the state of Texas or anyone else come here and toss out your votes.”

Biden was referring to a lawsuit filed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and supported by hundreds of Republicans that sought to overturn the election results in key states. The high court refused to hear the case.

Biden’s visit to Atlanta comes one day after the Electoral College sealed his presidential victory leading most top Republicans to recognize it, although Trump still has not.

Biden also urged Congress to pass a Covid relief package, including direct payments to people suffering financially during the pandemic. The four top leaders in Congress were meeting to try to finalize a package.

“Your two United States senators are not supporting that kind of package,” Biden told the crowd.

If either Perdue or Loeffler wins re-election, the GOP will hold on to its Senate majority. That gives leader Mitch McConnell the power to block Biden’s cabinet nominees and his legislative agenda, setting Washington up for more years of drawn-out negotiations – or inaction.

Wins by Warnock and Ossoff would divide the Senate 50-50 and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast any tie-breaking votes.

Biden Savors Victory, Hails Georgia Duo in Bid to Swing Senate

Biden’s visit comes on the second day of early voting ahead of the Jan. 5 election, and turnout was high as it was in November.

Biden’s visit could help boost Democrats’ get-out-the-vote efforts and potentially persuade some swing voters, especially in the Atlanta suburbs, which supported him in November. His middle-of-the-road message, focused on public health and the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, could offer reassurance as Republicans warn against the “radical liberal” Democrats, a phrase Loeffler used 13 times against Warnock during a debate earlier this month.

A SurveyUSA poll conducted in late November -- the most recent reputable survey of the state -- found Ossoff leading Perdue 50% to 48%, within the poll’s margin of error, while Warnock had a 7-point lead over Loeffler, 52% to 45%.

The Republicans had an early financial advantage in the runoffs, raising $95 million between Election Day and Nov. 23, more than four times as much as the $18 million Democrats gave allied groups over the same period.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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