Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for January 5, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for January 5, 2021

Georgia and American History

On January 5, 1734, the Trustees of Georgia ordered the return of 42 Jewish settlers who had come in 1733, primarily from Portugal, without the knowledge or approval of the Trustees. The Brits who sponsored the Jewish settlers refused and Georgia is home to one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the United States.

On January 5, 1781, traitor Benedict Arnold and 1600 British troops captured Richmond, Virginia.

On January 5, 1978, the British band the Sex Pistols started their American tour at the Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta, GA.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump rallied the faithful in Dalton last night, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Donald Trump declared Monday night he would “fight like hell” to hold on to the presidency and appealed to Republican lawmakers to reverse his election loss to Joe Biden when they convene this week to confirm the Electoral College vote.

Electoral voters won by President-elect Biden are “not gonna take this White House!” he shouted as supporters cheered at an outdoor rally in Georgia. Trump’s announced purpose for the trip was to boost Republican Senate candidates in Tuesday’s runoff election, but he spent much of his speech complaining bitterly about his election loss — which he insists he won “by a lot.”

One of the Georgia Republicans in Tuesday’s runoff — Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who faces Democrat Raphael Warnock — told the crowd she will join senators formally objecting to Biden’s win. The other Republican seeking reelection, David Perdue, who is running against Democrat Jon Ossoff, will not be eligible to vote.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

“Tomorrow, each of you is going to vote in one of the most important runoff elections in the history of our country,” he said. “Frankly, forget about runoff, one of the most important elections … it’s a biggie. Our country is depending on you.”

“I have an announcement, Georgia,” [Senator Loeffler] said. “On Jan. 6, I will object to the electoral college vote. We’re going to get this done. But I have a very important question for you: are you ready to show America that Georgia is a red state? Look, this president fought for us. We’re fighting for him.”

“I’ll be here in a year-and-a-half to campaign against your governor,” Trump said of Kemp.

The governor told press he was not invited to the rally in Dalton. The president called Kemp “incompetent” and said he and Raffensperger are “petrified” of high-profile Democrat Stacey Abrams.

“There’s no way we lost Georgia, there’s no way,” Trump said and was met with cheers. “That was a rigged election.”

From the AJC:

“They say they’re Republicans,” Trump said of Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “I really don’t think they are. They can’t be.”

Trump made only a passing reference the bombshell tape that was leaked to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other news outlets on Sunday showing the him pressuring Raffensperger to “find” votes to reverse his election defeat, saying, “They don’t like my phone call. Everyone liked my phone call.”

Trump was even more resolute in his vow to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp’s re-election bid because the governor did not forcefully support his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

“I’ll be here in about a year-and-a-half campaigning against you, governor,” Trump told Kemp, who wasn’t in attendance. “I guarantee that.”

Trump’s final words: “And we will make America great again. Go get ‘em David. Go Get ‘em Kelly.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Georgia for the Democratic candidates, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Joe Biden on Monday told Georgia Democrats they had the power to “chart the course” for a generation as President Donald Trump urged Republican voters to “swamp” the polls ahead of runoff elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Biden campaigned with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Atlanta, hoping he could recreate the coalition that secured him a narrow victory in the presidential race in November.

“Folks, this is it. This is it. It’s a new year, and tomorrow can be a new day for Atlanta, for Georgia and for America,” Biden said at a drive-in rally. “Unlike any time in my career, one state — one state — can chart the course, not just for the four years but for the next generation.”

“The Democrats are trying to steal the White House, you cannot let them,” Trump said. “You just can’t let them steal the U.S. Senate, you can’t let it happen.”

Biden said he needs a Senate majority to pass legislation to combat the coronavirus, and he blasted Perdue and Loeffler as obstructionist Trump loyalists. Loeffler says she will join other Republican lawmakers in objecting to the Electoral College certification of Biden’s victory by Congress on Wednesday.

“You have two senators who think they’ve sworn an oath to Donald Trump, not the United States Constitution,” Biden said.

Earlier Monday, Vice President Mike Pence told a crowd of conservative Christian voters at a campaign event in Milner, Georgia, to stop a Democratic takeover in Washington. “We’re going to keep Georgia, and we’re going to save America,” Pence said at Rock Springs Church in Milner.

Perdue addressed the church crowd in Milner by telephone while quarantining over coronavirus exposure, claiming that “the very future of our republic is on the line” and declaring the duty to vote “a calling from God.”

Biden said he’ll send everyone free money if they vote for the Dems today. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

President-elect Joe Biden said electing Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock in Tuesday’s runoff elections would end the gridlock in Washington and allow a Democrat-controlled Senate to provide $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans.

“If you send Jon and the Reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now,” Biden said, making his closing argument for the Democrats at a campaign event in Atlanta on Monday.

“And if you send (Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler) back to Washington, those checks will never get there,” Biden said. “It’s just that simple. The power is literally in your hands.”

The New York Times previews today’s voting.

Early voting data suggests that the races are very competitive. There are some indications that Democrats had a bigger share of the early-voting electorate than they did in the general election, raising hopes for a party that has traditionally been the underdog in runoff races.

The outcome now depends on whether Republicans can overcome the Democrats’ early gains when they head to the polls on Tuesday. Rates of early voting have been lowest in the conservative northwest corner of the state, worrying some Republicans. But others argue that their supporters typically vote in higher numbers on election day and hope that President Trump’s rally on Monday in Dalton, a city in the northwest, will push more Republicans to the polls.

Yes, there could be yet another round of counting. After multiple vote counts last year, state officials are preparing for all contingencies.

Republicans are expected to command an early lead on election night, both because the more conservative areas of the state typically report results faster and because votes cast in person, which have favored Republicans during the pandemic, are typically released earlier. Heavily Democratic counties, including the suburban Atlanta areas that helped Mr. Biden win, historically take longer to count votes.

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Atlanta) spoke about the President’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Hours before a rally with President Donald Trump in northwest Georgia, Sen. Kelly Loeffler told supporters gathered at the Columbus Airport Monday that the president’s insistence he was scammed out of victory during Georgia’s presidential contest would not hurt her reelection bid.

“I think it’s fantastic the president will be in Georgia tonight,” Loeffler said. “…He’s getting out the message that Georgians need to turn out and vote for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

“Georgians have come out to vote,” she added. “We already have three million early votes (statewide) right now.”

“Our total focus is on Tuesday, January 5th because the future of the country is on the ballot. We are the firewall to socialism in Georgia,” she said.

Sen. Loeffler also campaigned in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Loeffler stopped Monday afternoon at Augusta Regional Airport to rally supporters to vote. According to her Twitter, she had already spent the day in Columbus, Albany, Valdosta and Savannah as part of her Senate Firewall Tour.

“The eyes of the nation are on us, right here in Georgia, because we are the firewall to stopping socialism,” Loeffler said. “David Perdue and I are fighting for the American dream…the Democrats would usher in socialism.”

Traveling with Loeffler was Sen. David Perdue’s cousin, former Georgia Governor, and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“Kelly Loeffler is a real, true patriot, a farm girl that grew up just like I did…[David and I] grew up with a never quit, never say die, leave it all on the line, and that’s exactly what David’s done in his six years,” the Secretary said. “Georgians, I’m pleading with you, let’s save America. Let’s win Georgia and save America.”

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth County) spoke in support of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the Albany Herald.

Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor on Monday condemned President Donald Trump’s phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, saying the President’s effort to pressure the state’s top election official to falsify election results was “inappropriate.”

“I am 100% certified to tell you that it was inappropriate. And it certainly did not help the situation,” Geoff Duncan told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on New Day. “It was based on misinformation, it was based on, you know, all types of theories that have been debunked and disproved over the course of the last 10 weeks.”

Duncan, who voted for Trump in the 2020 election, said he was “disappointed” by the phone call and defended Raffensperger, saying his answers to Trump’s questions about the legitimacy of Georgia’s election were accurate.

“I’m certainly glad to have him on the other end of that call, to stand true and to follow the letter of the law,” he said. “I was proud to hear his voice, I was proud to hear his answers, although they weren’t what the President wanted to hear or anybody else on that side of the call wanted to hear.”

Early voting in Clarke County and Oconee County lagged behind the General Election, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections reported that 18,453 people voted early, while it had received 13,441 absentee ballots as of Monday morning. Absentee ballots will still be received through Tuesday.

The early voting numbers were down in Athens from the Nov. 5 general election, which garnered more than 21,000 early votes.

The Oconee County Board of Elections reported there were 13,477 early votes and as of Thursday, 4,040 absentee ballots delivered.

Early voting in Oconee was down about a thousand votes compared to the advance votes for the general election, according to Jennifer Stone, assistant director of the Oconee office.

Coastal Georgia election offices expect high turnout for the runoff today, according to The Brunswick News.

[Brantley County election supervisor Betty Jo] Morgan bases her prediction on the turnout for early and absentee voting in the county with about 12,000 registered voters. She said 3,255 early votes were cast and 619 absentee ballots had arrived as of Monday.

Elenore Gale, elections supervisor in McIntosh County, said the runoff has generated lots of interest. In the county with 10,047 registered voters, Gale said 3,090 early votes were cast and another 1,287 mail-in ballots are waiting to be counted.

Gale said she expects the polling places to be busy today.

In Glynn County, 19,701 early votes were cast in person and 7,764 absentee ballots had arrived at the elections office so far.

In Camden County, elections supervisor Shannon Nettles said more than 7,600 cast votes during the in-person advance voting period and more than 3,500 absentee ballots have been returned to her office. More than 30 percent of the county’s 36,003 registered voters have cast ballots in the runoff.

“I don’t think I’ve ever conducted one on this scale before. More and more people understand the importance of this and will cast their votes,” Nettles said.

The runoff will also attract voters in St. Marys, where two city council seats will be determined. Allen Rassi, an incumbent, will face challenger Cody Smith in the non-partisan race. Rassi got 49 percent of the vote in the Nov. 3 general election while Smith got 29 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race.

A runoff will also be held between Nathan Floyd, who got 44 percent of the vote in the general election, and Lisa James, who got 32 percent of the vote in the three-candidate race for the Post 6 seat.

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJ Pak has left office, according to AccessWDUN.

Byung J. “BJay” Pak, who was appointed by Trump, announced his resignation as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia in a news release. The statement did not say why Pak was leaving or what he plans to do next.

“It has been the greatest honor of my professional career to have been able to serve my fellow citizens as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia,” Pak said in the release. “I have done my best to be thoughtful and consistent, and to provide justice for my fellow citizens in a fair, effective and efficient manner. I am grateful to President Trump and the United States Senate for the opportunity to serve, and to former Attorneys General Sessions and Barr for their leadership of the Department.”

Hall County government will require appointments for some offices, according to AccessWDUN.

In light of the large number of COVID-19 cases that we are seeing come in right now, county administration has made the decision that we delay hearing any Public Hearing items at today’s meeting and look at alternative safety protocols for our next couple of meetings,” Hall County Planning Director Sarah McQuade said at the start of Monday’s Hall County Planning Commission meeting.

Dougherty County public schools will go online for the new semester beginning next week, according to the Albany Herald.

“The Dougherty County School System announced today we are pivoting from our (current) mode for instruction that involved virtual instruction and in-person instruction,” schools Superintendent Ken Dyer said during a virtual news conference Monday afternoon. The decision came, he said, “due to the spike we have seen in our community since Thanksgiving and anticipate from Christmas.”

In addition to considering the safety of staff and students, the school system considered the area’s health care system in making the decision, said Dyer, who noted there were 93 patients being treated for COVID-19 Thursday at Phoebe Putney Health System facilities.

“We’re concerned about those cases increasing and increasing hospitalizations,” the superintendent said.

Gainesville City Schools will also begin the semester remotely, according to AccessWDUN.

Gainesville City Schools will return from winter break with remote instruction due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Gainesville/Hall County community, according to a press release from the school system.

All Gainesville City Schools students will participate in remote instruction from Jan. 6 through Jan. 15, according to the release. The change was made after reviewing community COVID-19 case information, and after having discussions with the Department of Public Health, Northeast Georgia Health System and others.

“We must work together to decrease the current peak in Gainesville/Hall County so we can return to a Face-to-Face instructional environment,” reads the release.

Hall County schools will also start the new school year remotely, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gwinnett County public schools will begin the new year with a mix of in-person and remote learning, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

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