The United States’ political future is on the line.
Whatever happens on January 5th in Georgia will determine the political circumstances under which a Biden administration must govern.
With the dramatic political consequences these two runoffs will bring, it is necessary to get to know the candidates vying for each seat.
Let’s start off with the incumbents.
Kelly Loeffler (R)
Kelly Loeffler is Georgia’s current junior senator in the U.S. Senate.
Georgia voters have never truly elected Loeffler to the Senate; Loeffler was appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in 2019 because former Senator Johnny Isakson retired due to health issues.
Before moving to Georgia for her career as a multi-million-dollar-earning-businesswoman, she was born in Bloomington, IL. She attended the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois for undergraduate studies, and she also acquired an MBA from Chicago’s own Depaul University.
Loeffler is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump. Recently, Loeffler has encouraged President Trump’s baseless claims of massive election and voter fraud when she and her counterpart Senator David Perdue called on Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign. She has also not acknowledged that Joe Biden is the President-elect.
The junior senator is in for a tight race as she is currently polling 0.5 percentage points less than her opponent Reverend Raphael Warnock.
David Perdue (R)
Senator David Perdue was first elected to the Senate in 2014. He is the current senior senator of Georgia.
He is a native Georgian, and was born in Macon, GA. Perdue attended the Georgia Institute of Technology where he received his bachelor of science in industrial engineering (1972) and masters of science in operations research (1976). Before becoming a senator, Perdue worked as a business executive at companies including Sara Lee, Reebok, and Dollar General.
Perdue has recently come under fire for questionable stock trades he made just before the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the U.S. economy. In a New York Times investigation, journalists found that Perdue had made 2,596 stock trades in one term and was under investigation for possible insider trading earlier this year. Perdue’s opponent Jon Ossoff has seized on Perdue’s stock trades as a line of attack against the incumbent senator.
Like Loeffler, Perdue is a supporter of President Trump. Perdue has also not actually acknowledged Biden’s victory, but has insinuated that Biden won in his messaging for why he should be elected on January 5th.
Now let’s introduce Loeffler and Perdue’s opponents.
Raphael Warnock (D)
Reverend Raphael Warnock is currently the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached back in the 1960s. Warnock is from Savannah, GA, and attended Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, before becoming a pastor.
Warnock has been under fire from his Republican opponent for supposedly welcoming communist dictator Fidel Castro to his church in 1995. These claims have been rated “mostly false” by PolitiFact as Warnock was not a member of Ebenezer’s dais at the time. Warnock has also repeatedly been called a “socialist or Marxist” by those who support his opponent for his Democratic policy positions.
In spite of these attacks, Warnock is in a very competitive race with Loeffler and could very well become one of Georgia’s senators in January.
Jon Ossoff (D)
Last but not least, Jon Ossoff is running to unseat David Perdue in this runoff election.
Jon Ossoff, born in Atlanta, GA, is only 33 years old. Ossoff attended Georgetown for undergrad and studied abroad at the London School of Economics for graduate school. Before running for office, Ossoff was the CEO of a media production company.
Ossoff rose to political stardom in 2017, when he ran as the Democratic candidate in a closely watched U.S. House special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. While Ossoff narrowly lost to his Republican opponent, he was immediately thrown into the mix of names to try to unseat Perdue in 2020.
Ossoff has mainly been painted by Perdue as a puppet of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer and Senator Bernie Sanders. Using a popular Republican attack, Perdue has called Ossoff a “socialist” who is wrong for Georgia.
The voters will decide, though, which candidate is truly wrong for Georgia. Right now, Ossoff has a strong chance of unseating Perdue in what would be an amazing and historic win for Democrats.
What will happen?
Both of the Georgia races are definitely toss-ups according to the polls, but run-off elections have historically worked in Republicans’ favor. What makes this race possibly different, though, could be President Trump’s unfounded attacks on Georgia’s presidential election results. President Trump’s claims of a “rigged election” in Georgia could potentially discourage many voters to not vote in the upcoming run-offs. Recently, some pro-Trump voices have explicitely called for Georgian’s to not vote in the election, a suggestion that Trump himself had to tell his supporters to not listen to.
In the end, the results of these two races will come down to the will of Georgia voters on January 5th. Will voters hand Biden the Senate and his Democratic agenda? Or will voters elect Republicans to serve as a check on the Biden administration and continue to advocate for conservative policies? Let’s wait and see.