Politics

US Senate Elections: A Whole Nation Looks to Georgia

The Senate election will take place on Tuesday in the state. For the new President Joe Biden it is trend-setting. Will he be able to govern without friction, or will the Republican majority remain in the Senate?

When Donald Trump last pitched in America’s carpet capital, Dalton, in 1991, he accompanied Marla Maples – later his second wife – who attended her former high school there. On Monday evening, however, in the city of 34,000 inhabitants in northern Georgia, Trump is neither about his own wife nor about flooring. But, interview Trump, “about the future of America”.

At the regional airport in Dalton, the US president, who will reluctantly abdicate in two weeks, wants to put his weight on the scales for the last time at a large rally. Because the next day, the balance of power in Washington will be decided in the southern state: the incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have to face a runoff election.

If the two multi-millionaires win, the conservatives will retain a majority in the upper house of Congress. Many projects of President-elect Joe Biden could be prevented. If, on the other hand, the Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win the race, it would be 50:50 in the Senate. Biden’s future vice-president, Kamala Harris, would then secure a majority with her constitutionally highlighted vote. Because the Democrats (despite a narrower lead) are already setting the tone in the House of Representatives, Biden could rule from one cast until the mid-term elections in two years.

“End of the world”

For Republicans like Nathaniel Grubman that would be synonymous with the “end of the world”. The retired plumber was there at the beginning of December in Valdosta in the far south of Georgia. Back then, Trump publicly dared to do a difficult balancing act for the first time after his election failure. In front of a good 5,000 supporters, he accused the Republican election officials headed by Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp of being an accomplice in an election fraud in favor of Joe Biden (which has never been confirmed in court until today). At the same time, he called on his fans not to skip the runoff election for the Senate. Because America would otherwise fall victim to “communist” field trials by the Democrats – health insurance for everyone, tough climate protection policies, etc.

Whether the apocalyptic rhetoric, which Trump is expected to continue tomorrow, will bear fruit, is a fearful question for Republicans in Georgia. Perdue / Loeffler and Warnock / Ossoff are close together in polls, with slight advantages for the Democrats. Republican Nathaniel Grubman: “If we can’t get our people to the ballot box, it’s over.” But why should conservative voters cast their votes when the electoral systems, as Trump claims to this day, are faked?

The Democrats are a little further on. Georgia, the state of the “New South”, has been a reliable Republican stronghold since the early 1990s. Until Joe Biden came along. In the end, there were around five million voters in the presidential election, around 12,000 more than Donald Trump.

From the base

Keisha Pemberton works for a hotel in Macon, a 90-minute drive south of Atlanta. “I didn’t vote for a long time,” said the 31-year-old in an interview with the KURIER, “I didn’t hope for anything more.” That has changed since Pemberton came into contact with two organizations without the Biden’s victory in Georgia inconceivable was: “New Georgia Project” and “Fair Fight”, both initiated by the black democratic regional politician Stacey Abrams, who in 2018 only narrowly defeated the conservative Brian Kemp in the race for governor. Abram’s grassroots movements have worked tirelessly to get around 800,000 new voters, especially African-Americans, into the electoral register who had previously stayed out of the democratic process. It was mainly because of them that the previously solid “red state” (red = republican) changed color. And turned Biden blue.

Abrams wants to make sure that the momentum doesn’t let up and that Warnock and Ossoff also cross the finish line. “It could work,” says Keisha Pemberton, “and that would be sensational.” Over two million voters have already cast their votes early.

Financially, the double runoff is beyond any dimension. Around $ 500 million has been spent on TV commercials. Overall, the Atlanta Constitution Journal reports, the four-person election campaign will be the most expensive in US parliamentary history at more than $ 800 million.

The challengers

The Democratic Senator nominee Raphael Warnock is sometimes embarrassed. The black man, who grew up in a council flat in Savannah with eleven siblings, is the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta – the place where Martin Luther King worked.

The 51-year-old consciously chose small towns for rallies. Anyone who hears him talking about the fight against poverty, the need for solidarity health insurance and higher taxation of top earners will experience a happy preacher who draws his political understanding of justice from the Bible without being cranky. For opponent Loeffler he is a “radical socialist” who wants to take away the arms of law-abiding citizens. What is wrong.

Ossoff also has to deal with similar attacks. At the age of 16, the 33-year-old documentary filmmaker applied for an internship with John Lewis – a colleague of Martin Luther King and long the “black conscience” of Congress. Since then, things have risen so steeply for Ossoff that former President Barack Obama recently described him as a political rough diamond. Now he just has to shine on Tuesday.

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