Georgia is the only state with two United States Senate seats up for election on Nov. 3, 2020, with both a regular and a special election. Both seats are currently held by conservative Republicans who loyally support President Donald Trump. While the state is usually safely red, strong Democratic challengers with aggressive campaigns have made both races highly competitive.
In the regular election, Republican incumbent David Perdue defends his seat against media executive and investigative journalist Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee following the June primary. According to polls, support for Ossoff has been rising, and as of Sept. 6, the race is labeled a toss up by Cook Political Report. Perdue has raised $14.5 million in the second quarter (April 1－June 30) while Ossoff raised $7 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the special election, without a primary, four candidates are fighting for a single seat. Following Senator Johnny Isakson’s retirement in Dec. 2019, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Republican businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to the seat. While there is no formal primary, one candidate from each party is polling well above the others. Reverend Raphael Warnock leads the Democratic field with school teacher Matthew Lieberman trailing significantly. Incumbent Loeffler has a lead over her closest Republican challenger, Congressman Doug Collins from Georgia’s 9th District. If no candidate receives a majority (50% plus one), there will be a runoff election on Jan. 5, 2021. As of Sept. 6, Cook Political Report has labeled the seat “lean Republican,” but Warnock is continually rising in the polls. [Update: As of Oct. 20, the race is labeled a toss up.] In the second quarter, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Loeffler has raised $17.5 million, Warnock has raised $4.3 million, Collins has raised $3.7 million, and Lieberman has raised $1.2 million.
Former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, Senator David Perdue, was elected to the Senate in 2014. He serves on the Senate Committees on Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Foreign Relations, according to his Senate website. He also states that he was “an early supporter of President Donald J. Trump and continues to be one of the President’s closest allies in the U.S. Senate.” On his campaign website, he calls himself “the Original Outsider in the belly of the beast, fighting to change the direction of our country.” He is staunchly anti-choice, anti-gun control, and anti-immigration, supporting “physical barriers at strategic points” along the U.S.－Mexico border. In his role on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, he’s proud to have supported the “largest military pay raise in a decade, relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, withdrawing from the disastrous Iran Deal, [and the] first ever Department of Defense Audit.” Perdue has been endorsed by President Trump, Senators Jim Inhofe (OK), Joni Ernst (IA), Tom Cotton (AR), former Senator Johnny Isakson (GA), and many military leaders.
Jon Ossoff, CEO of Insight TWI, a media company that produces investigative documentaries, would be the youngest member of the Senate, if elected, at 33 years old. In the 2017 special election, Ossoff was the Democratic nominee for Georgia’s 6th congressional seat, coming within three points of Tom Price in the most expensive congressional race in American history. His campaign is centered around an ambitious infrastructure plan that, according to his campaign website, “includes big, overdue investments in transportation and transit, clean energy, energy efficiency, public health, communications, research and development, emergency response, and environmental cleanup.” He is strongly pro-choice, promising to only vote for judges who uphold Roe v. Wade, and he is endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America (and his wife Dr. Alisha Kramer is an OB/GYN). While Ossoff supports “more federal law enforcement resources to attack organized crime, human trafficking, racketeering, money laundering, fraud, espionage, and corruption,” his criminal justice reform plan includes demilitarizing police forces, ending cash bail, banning private prisons, abolishing the death penalty, and legalizing cannabis. His educational plan has a large focus on free trade schools and vocational training as well as student loan forgiveness and caps on interest rates. Ossoff is endorsed by the late Congressman John Lewis, Senator Kamala Harris, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and End Citizens United among others.
Senator Kelly Loeffler was sworn in on Jan. 6, 2020, following Senator Isakson’s resignation. She serves on the Senate Committees on Veteran’s Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pension; Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry; and the Joint Economic Committee. She is the wealthiest member of Congress with an estimated net worth of $800 million, as reported by Forbes. Loeffler is also a partial owner of the WNBA Atlanta Dream, and she wrote a letter to the league discouraging them from supporting Black Lives Matter. On her campaign website, she calls herself a “conservative businesswoman” and “political outside” who is “pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and pro-wall.” She proudly writes that she has been ranked the most conservative senator, and that she voted in-line with Trump 100% of the time. She is endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senators Tom Cotton (AR) and Marsha Blackburn (TN), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and over 10 county sheriffs among others.
Congressman Doug Collins, the other Republican candidate, is a former senior pastor at Chicopee Baptist Church and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. He served for three terms in the State Congress before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. As a congressman, he serves on the House Judiciary Committee. According to his campaign website, his number one issue is “supporting President Trump,” and he is pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and pro-cop.
Reverend Raphael Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the former pulpit of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. He also served as the Chair of The New Georgia Project, a group dedicated to engaging with and registering new voters. In 2017, he was arrested in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda during a protest against a funding cut for children’s healthcare. His campaign is focused on healthcare, especially protecting and expanding Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (but not Medicare for All). He is pro-gun control and pro-life and is endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Warnock’s economic plan includes increasing technical and vocational training, achieving pay equity, and raising the minimum wage. Warnock is endorsed by End Citizens United, the Congressional Black Caucus, Stacey Abrams, and Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley among many others.
The other democratic candidate, Matt Lieberman, is a single dad and school teacher. He is the son of former Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, Al Gore’s running mate, and uses the Gore v. Bush Supreme Court decision that decided the 2000 election to highlight the importance of voting rights. He wants to pass a “Voting Rights Act for the 21st Century” and supports Stacey Abrams’s proposed plan to combat voter suppression.
Without a majority in the Senate, it is difficult for a party to pass legislation, and these races could determine which party holds the majority in January. To get involved with a specific campaign, visit their campaign website. To help engage new voters, learn more about The New Georgia Project, Fair Fight, and Rock The Vote. If you live in Georgia, register to vote at www.georgia.gov/register-to-vote.