Tag: georgia senate runoffs
Winning Georgia Senate Seat, Warnock Overcomes Final GOP Push

Winning Georgia Senate Seat, Warnock Overcomes Final GOP Push

In a stunning finale to 2022’s midterm elections, Georgians reelected Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff that concluded Tuesday night, when the incumbent Democrat and Atlanta pastor defeated Herschel Walker, a football star who was handpicked by Donald Trump but rejected by the Peach State’s diverse urban and suburban voters.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Warnock had won by 95,000 votes out of more than 3.4 million votes cast, a margin of 2.8 percent in a race where Warnock campaigned vigorously on his accomplishments – and the state Democratic Party and many grassroots civil rights groups urged Georgians to vote. Walker, in contrast, sought to leverage his celebrity to be elected to high office, but his campaign was shadowed by disturbing revelations about his personal life and further impaired by dodging questions and making strange statements in speeches. He conceded the race before 11 p.m.

By the campaign’s close, Walker reverted to clichéd Republican talking points that mocked Democrats, while Warnock continued to speak of his state’s unmet needs and his hope that they could be addressed in Washington. Despite that contrast in substance and leadership capacities, the runoff’s margin underscored that Georgia’s Republican voters still are a formidable and loyal bloc in one of the country’s newest battleground states.

When Warnock took the stage after 11 p.m., he pledged to work for all Georgians in sermon-like remarks that framed his election as an affirmation of American democracy’s progress.

“It is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: the people have spoken,” he said. “I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. Voting is faith put into action. And Georgia, you have been praying with your lips and your legs; with your hands and your feet; your heads and your hearts. You have put in the hard work, and here we are standing together.”

Warnock, who was elected to a two-year term in 2020 that also required a runoff election, is the first Black Georgian to be elected to a full term as a U.S. senator. He noted how his parents had struggled under segregation, and how voter suppression was still very much alive in his state.

“There are those who would look at the outcome of this race and say that there is no voter suppression in Georgia,” Warnock said. “Let me be clear. Just because people endured long lines that wrapped around buildings, some a block long; just because they endured the rain and the cold, and all kinds of tricks in order to vote, doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist. It simply means that you, the people, have decided that your voices will not be silenced.

“Let us not forget that when we entered this runoff, in a vestige of the ugly side of our complicated American story, state officials said that we couldn’t vote on Saturday,” Warnock continued. “But we sued them, and we won. And the people, once again, rose up in a multi-racial, multi-religious coalition of conscience… and you voted because you believe as I do.”

Warnock was referring to a mid-1960s state law that required a runoff when no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote. That law was adopted to try to keep Black candidates from winning office. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, initially said that GOP-authored election law modifications adopted in 2021 (after Democrats won the state’s presidential and senatorial elections) barred Saturday voting in a shortened runoff season.

Ironically, various provisions in that GOP-drafted law, as well as Trump’s proclamations that the only votes that should count are those cast in person on Election Day, probably undermined Republican turnout during the runoff. As the results trickled in, it was clear that many more Democrats than Republicans took advantage of voting before Election Day, as well as using mailed-out ballots. Moreover, the weather on Tuesday across metro Atlanta and surrounding counties, where most of the state’s voters from both major parties are concentrated, was dismal – foggy, damp, and cold. Such conditions often depress turnout, especially among older voters, who are a key GOP constituency.

As the runoff came to a close, Republican strategists said that Walker needed voters in GOP-majority rural counties to turn out in comparable or slightly better numbers than in November’s general election, where he trailed Warnock by 38,000 votes. (A Libertarian candidate prevented any contender from winning more than 50 percent.) Walker also needed to boost his numbers by roughly five percent in metro Atlanta counties, where Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who was re-elected in November, received tens of thousands more votes than the football star.

While Republicans predicted that Kemp’s last-minute efforts to boost the former football hero's candidacy could prove pivotal, Walker never obtained the votes that he needed in the Atlanta region. In rural areas, by contrast, Walker’s support remained strong. Yet Warnock didn't lose votes in rural counties and saw his support grow in the state’s metro regions.

Visits to precincts north of Atlanta where Walker hoped to increase his support – because Kemp won by large margins – hinted that he would fall short. In a half-dozen precincts in Cobb County, a stretch of suburbs on Atlanta’s north side, the turnout was steady but generally not crowded. There were hardly any elderly voters visible. And voters repeatedly said that neither last-minute campaign ads for both candidates nor Kemp’s efforts on Walker’s behalf changed many voters' intentions.

“People had their mind made up,” said Amie Carter, who works in technology sales. “Spending all that money on paper and TV ads was probably not very influential.”

Monica Brown, a Black social scientist who worked to turn out Black voters in Cobb County, said Walker’s history of domestic violence and buffoonish campaign trail antics mortified many people in communities of color.

“When we think of Black excellence – this notion that you have to be more prepared, better – in this particular race, where was that excellence?” she asked. “We cannot afford to lessen it. What is the rationale for picking this guy?”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In Senate Runoff, Georgia's Organizers Defy GOP Attack On Voting Rights

In Senate Runoff, Georgia's Organizers Defy GOP Attack On Voting Rights

On the only day of Sunday voting before Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff, the auto-parts store parking lot across the street from Atlanta’s Metropolitan Library looked and sounded more like a block party than a get-out-the-vote event.

“We’re having a good time on this corner. If you feel the spirit, let me hear your horn. Come on!” bellowed D.J. Concrete Kash above a sound system that played gospel music and was next to several orange shade tents filled with free food, water, hand warmers and voter guides.

“We have five or six organizations out here coming together to say, ‘Hey, we believe in what you all are doing,” said Chandra Gallashaw, a community organizer. “Georgia Stand Up is over there. The NAACP. Black Voters Matter. We Vote, We Win… It has nothing to do with anyone running for office. It has to do with these people over there in line exercising their right, their constitutional right to vote.”

The tables at this pro-voter effort comprised some of Georgia’s oldest and newest non-profit civil rights groups. While they were careful not to endorse any candidate, their presence was a powerful rejoinder to the state’s GOP-led government, whose 2021 legislation banned giving food and water to anyone waiting to vote, among other roll backs of voting options.

“As we know, our governor [Republican Brian Kemp] banned us from being able to give water in line. We have to be 150 feet away from the polls,” said Mykah Owens, a campaign associate with We Vote We Win. “One of our guys measured and made sure that we’re far enough from the polls so we won’t get in trouble.”

“We had to do something,” said Gallashaw. “The fact we cannot give water in line to people who stand in line for two or three hours… Some of these folks are 70, 80 years old. Some of them are diabetic. They have health issues.”

A similar “Party to the Polls” was held at three of Fulton County’s two-dozen voting sites on Sunday and will continue through the early voting period which ends on Friday. While the event was a rarity in this populous county, its significance was not lost on Black voters.

“I love the fact that although they tried to pass a law where you couldn’t give water and things to people in line, they just put it across the street,” said Yasha Yisrael, who, with her husband, Chasum Yisrael, were sipping free smoothies from one of three food trucks. “It’s amazing.”

“It’s something that should have been done all along and I hope they continue it,” she continued, “because it does encourage more people who would not normally vote who are registered to come in and vote because they feel this sense of community.”

“Every effort is being tried to stop our right to vote,” said Chasum Yisreal. “We’ve got to be smart about it.”

The couple said that they did not know who the newer civic groups were. But across the state’s 159 counties, a coalition of community-based organizations, from mainstays like the NAACP and sororities and fraternities from historically Black colleges and universities to new groups targeting younger people, are making a determined effort to turn out voters for the Senate runoff and to keep in touch year round to try to change state’s political representation.

Georgia, as Rep. Nikema Williams told the Democratic National Committee last June in a bid to urge the DNC to move up its 2024 presidential primary date, is one of the nation’s most racially diverse states with growing Black, Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander populations. It is the fifth-ranked state for women-owned businesses and 41 percent of all businesses are minority owned, which is double the national average. But cosmopolitan Atlanta is surrounded by the old South, where conservatives continue to dominate county and municipal government.

That landscape has turned every recent Georgia election into a struggle to engage voters. The Senate runoff was no exception and is operating under some new voting rules.

This is the first time that a statewide runoff is being held one month after Election Day. That timetable is half as long as the state’s two U.S. Senate runoff elections in 2020 and was created by the GOP’s 2021 legislation. One impact of the shorter timetable is to block new voters from registering. It also is too tight a timeline to obtain and return a mailed-out ballot.

Additionally, the legislation shortened the runoff’s early voting period to one week, although some metro counties expanded it through this past weekend, and a few counties started before Thanksgiving. (Republicans tried to bar voting on Saturday but lost in court last week.)

The early turnout numbers suggest that voters are not deterred by the 2021 law’s tightening of voting options. On Sunday, Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, tweeted that some metro Atlanta voting sites were experiencing waits of two hours. The wait at the Metropolitan Library’s first day of early voting on Saturday was as long, said We Vote, We Win’s Owens.

“We had over a two-hour wait yesterday. You usually don’t see that until the end of early voting – more towards the Election Day,” she said. “People are paying attention.”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Endorse This! Colbert Hilariously Destroys Herschel Walker's 'Gun Plan'

Endorse This! Colbert Hilariously Destroys Herschel Walker's 'Gun Plan'

Republicans have been tripping over themselves in an all-out race to shield the NRA and find any blame for gun shootings that ignores actual guns. And while we thought Ted Cruz had the dumbest excuse, Georgia's Trump-backed Senate candidate and former football player Herschel Walker appear to have out-dumbed Cruz.

Walker says the solution to school shootings involves "a department that can look at young men that's looking at women that's looking at social media." Did Walker play wearing a helmet? Late Show host Stephen Colbert gleefully assessed his suggestion.

“Yeah, what about doing that?” Colbert said on Wednesday night. “It’s high time to create the Federal Bureau Of Looking At Young Men Who Are Looking At Women Who Are Looking At Social Media.”

Colbert even came up with a logo for this so-called agency.

2020 election voter fraud

Trump's Crazy Voter Fraud Lies Yielded A Surprising Benefit

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With voting rights legislation and the Build Back Better Act stalled in the Senate, some liberals and progressives are complaining that President Joe Biden hasn’t been getting enough done. But journalist S.V. Dáte , in an article published by HuffPost on December 29, stresses that Biden has been a major success in terms of getting “progressive judges” on the federal bench — and Date argues that former President Donald Trump played a role in Biden’s achievement, even though that wasn’t his intention.

Dáte explains, “The former president’s sabotage of two Georgia Senate runoffs in early January with his endless lies about ‘massive fraud’ having cost him reelection almost certainly cost the two Republican incumbents their seats, giving Democrats control of the chamber and the ability to push through judicial nominations without a single GOP vote.”

A year ago, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was still Senate majority leader. But that changed when, in Georgia, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were elected to the Senate — giving Democrats a narrow majority. Trump’s message to GOP voters in Georgia was that since Democrats rigged those Senate races, it was pointless for Republicans to vote. And that message did not serve the GOP well.

Of course, there was nothing “rigged” about those two runoffs. Democrats did a better job getting out the vote in Georgia, whereas Trump’s nonsense claims about widespread voter fraud discouraged Republican turnout.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor in Virginia, agrees that Trump’s actions in Georgia ultimately gave Biden a chance to get more federal judges confirmed — something they wouldn’t have been able to do had Republicans maintained control of the Senate.

"Trump handed it to them,” Tobias told HuffPost. “They just wouldn’t have had the votes. I don’t know what they would have done.”

Dáte notes that “of the 40 Biden judges confirmed so far — 35 more are already in the pipeline — a full 80 percent are women.”

“Those nominees would have faced a much tougher path in a Senate run by Mitch McConnell with a 52-48 Republican majority, which appeared as if it would be the outcome in November 2020 after the votes were counted in Georgia with no candidate in either of the two Senate races receiving over 50 perecent,” Dáte observes.

Tobias said of Biden’s federal judicial nominees, “I think very few of those people would have been confirmed. Biden would have pulled back and.… chosen more moderates, picked more people who were less ideologically liberal.”

HuffPost also interviewed the American Enterprise Institute’s Norman Ornstein, who agrees that had McConnell remained Senate majority leader, Biden would have had a much harder time getting his judicial nominees confirmed.

Ornstein told HuffPost, “If Biden were able to get a half dozen judges through — most likely, only district courts — in a McConnell-led Senate, that would be because Mitch was feeling especially generous. And Mitch does not feel generous.”

Article reprinted with permission from Alternet