Control of the United States Senate will come down to the state of Georgia on Tuesday, as incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on the final day of their respective runoff races.
Leaders of both parties headed to the state for a final pitch to voters Monday. Vice President Mike Pence kicked off the day of rallies, appealing to Christian voters at a megachurch on behalf of Perdue and Loeffler early in the day. President-elect Joe Biden appeared alongside Ossoff and Warnock at an event outside of Atlanta early Monday evening. President Donald Trump is set to visit the state later Monday night.
Democrats need both candidates to win in order to gain a 50-50 split in the Senate, ultimately giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote. Biden on Monday acknowledged the importance of electing two more Democrats to the Senate, saying Georgia voters “can chart the course not just for the next four years but for a generation.”
“...By electing Jon and the Reverend, you’ll be sending a powerful message to the Congress and the country: it’s time for this nation to come together,” Biden told the Atlanta crowd Monday. “To work together. To unite. To put the anger and the division and the divisive politics of the past behind us.”
All three Democrats on Monday pledged to include larger direct payments to most Americans in the next COVID-19 relief bill. Negotiations on a standalone stimulus bill to send Americans $2,000 direct payments failed in the Senate late last week.
The issue might be a sticking point for Georgia voters, as the Republican candidates have a complicated legacy on stimulus payments. Perdue came out as an early opponent of the $1,200 direct stimulus payment in the March CARES Act, although ultimately voted in favor of the bill. Republican senators as a whole pushed for lower direct payments in the more recently negotiated stimulus package.
It wasn’t until President Trump revealed his support for the $2,000 checks -- after Congress had already sent the bill containing a smaller direct payment allotment to his desk for signature -- did Perdue and Loeffler come out in support of the increased amount.
Biden, on the other hand, has long promised to push for another round of relief on day one of his presidency; both Ossoff and Warnock have made their support for the direct payments a central theme of their campaigns.
“If you send Jon and the Reverend to Washington, those two-thousand dollar checks are going out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor to so many people struggling right now,” Biden said Monday. “If you send Senators Perdue and Loeffler back to Washington, those checks will never get there.”
“When you send me and Reverend Warnock to the senate, we will pass those two thousand dollar stimulus checks that the people need, that families need to stay on their feet and in their homes,” Ossoff reiterated.
Biden’s trip Monday also came a day after the disclosure of a remarkable telephone call between President Trump and the Georgia secretary of state over the weekend. Trump pressured Republican Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Georgia’s election results ahead of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s Electoral College victory.
While not addressing the phone call outright, Biden on Monday stressed the importance of serving the constituents and upholding the United States Constitution.
“As president, I don’t believe your United States Senators work for me. I believe they work for the people of Georgia,” Biden said Monday. “That’s why I’m not asking your Senators to be loyal to me. I believe they should be loyal to you, to Georgia, and to the United States Constitution.”
Perdue and Loeffler have run as unabashed Trump Republicans and spent the two-month runoff blitz warning of a “radical” and “dangerous” lurch to the left.
Sen. Perdue on Sunday told Fox News what Trump said on the recorded call was "no different from what he’s been saying for the last two months.” Sen. Loeffler has not directly answered questions about the lawfulness of Trump’s actions since the tape was published, but did say Sunday she hadn’t decided whether to join her Republican colleagues in challenging the legitimacy of Biden’s victory over Trump when Congress meets Wednesday to affirm Biden’s 306-232 win in the Electoral College.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.