Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find | Notice
Ray Charles’ moving interpretation of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind” ends with “I said Georgia, oh Georgia, No peace I find. . . “
This is certainly what voters in Peach State are bound to chant over the next three weeks. Even as they stop for the holidays, they are overwhelmed by a barrage of TV and digital ads, door knocking, mail and other outreach activities in two US Senate run-off elections.
These second-round elections will determine not only who represents them in the United States Senate, but also control of that body and, with it, the course of the nation for the next two years.
The situation in Georgia is unusual for several reasons. First there is the runoff. Most states allow the election of senators by winning only a plurality of votes cast. Georgian law requires that in order to be elected a candidate must obtain an absolute majority. If a candidate fails to obtain a majority, a second round is organized between the first two in the general election.
Georgia’s election laws have produced unusual results over the years, including the 1966 gubernatorial election of segregationist Democrat Lester Maddox. Maddox lost the Democratic primary, finishing far second, but ahead of a state senator named Jimmy Carter.
Since no candidate obtained the required 50%, a second round took place. Maddox prevailed and won the right to face Republican Howard “Bo” Callaway.
In November, Calloway beat Maddox but failed to secure the necessary absolute majority. The election went to the Georgia House of Representatives which overwhelmingly elected Maddox.
Callaway became the secretary of the army. Carter has done quite well politically.
Beyond the runoff, there is another anomaly. It is the fact that there are two seats in the United States Senate to be elected in the same state and in the same year. Usually, U.S. Senators run for staggered six-year terms, eliminating the possibility of two seats being elected at the same time.
One of Georgia’s seats is a special ballot, which will be held to fulfill the unexpired term of Senator Johnny Isakson, who resigned his seat for health reasons. This seat was occupied by appointment of the governor.
The other seat is to be elected in the normal course and presents the re-election effort of Senator David Purdue.
In the November 3 election, Perdue came within a hair’s breadth of the majority, winning 49.7% of the vote and beating Democrat Jon Osoff by nearly 90,000 votes.
The special election held on the same day was almost forced to produce a second round as 20 candidates were on the ballot, each taking a share of the vote. Loeeffler did well, beating conservative mainstay Doug Collins, but still finished far from the mark needed to avoid a second round.
If you’ve followed this this far, you know the situation is unusual. What makes the stakes extraordinarily high is the fact that control of the Senate and the nation’s future may be at stake.
On January 4, Republicans will hold 50 Senate seats, Democrats controlling 48. If Republicans win only one of Georgia’s seats, they will retain Senate control and the ability to block extreme proposals, a majority of more and more left in the House could send their way.
If, however, Democrats won both seats in Georgia, the Senate would be tied with the vice president capable of severing most ties. If Kamala Harris ends up fulfilling this role, the results will be felt for generations.
A Democrat-controlled Congress with a Democratic White House would bring the prospect of court action, open immigration, police de-funding, the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-All and a mob other very bad ideas.
In general, few opinions change in the second round of elections. Voters have already made their preferences known. Second-round elections are usually won by those who work best on the ground, blocking and attacking winning campaigns.
Republicans have another advantage. Georgia may tend to be more democratic than it has been in recent decades, but it is still nowhere near as far to the left as the two Democratic candidates.
Jon Osoff, who lost the famously nationally watched and extremely costly special election for the state’s 6th Congressional District seat in 2017 (this race was also decided in a second round), praised the support of “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders.
Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate for the other seat, is even further to the left. He endorsed the Green New Deal, defended Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Semitic rants, said the police had a “gangster and thug mentality” and told the US military: “You cannot serve God and God. ‘army.” According to most of them, these are on the far left of “Georgia values”.
With so much at stake, January 5 will find a lot with Georgia in the lead.
Charlie Gerow is a Republican strategist and CEO of Quantum Communications. He and Democrat Mark Singel write face to face every week on PennLive. They can also be seen every Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. on CBS-21’s Face the State.