“Nobody in Georgia cares about the QAnon business,” Loeffler defiantly told reporters after arriving in a Humvee with a baseball cap with Congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene by their side. “This is something that the fake news will keep bringing up – and Antifa will ignore.”
Loeffler, an appointed senator and one of the wealthiest in Congress, was in a race to the right with GOP MP Doug Collins, an intra-party struggle that raised deep Republican concerns that it might fragment the vote and help the Democrats sweep Georgia up and down to take over the majority of the Senate.
It’s a scenario that GOP leaders have feared privately for months ̵
But Collins, who campaigned for the Senate nomination given by Governor Brian Kemp Loeffler, entered the race earlier this year over angry opposition from the National Republican Senatorial Committee. With Trump remaining silent about his preference in the race, the two candidates have tried to strengthen each other and demonstrate their loyalty to the president. They keep moving to the right in a state where the more moderate suburban voters of Atlanta will be the linchpin.
The race offers challenges like no other in the country. Since this is a special option, there is no area code. To finally win the November election, a candidate must pass 50% of the vote. If not, the top two candidates will compete in a runoff in January. Since a candidate is unlikely to reach the 50 percent threshold, both Collins and Loeffler fought hard for the runoff election, courting Republican voters and addressing the conservative grassroots who registered part of the 6.9 million Represents voters of the state.
This has created an opening for the leading Democratic candidate, Rev. Raphael Warnock, who was largely unscathed during the daily blows between Collins and Loeffler and was rewarded with a fundraiser on Friday under the direction of former President Barack Obama.
Republicans are privately annoyed that the bitter Collins-Loeffler struggle is dividing the party at the most critical point in the campaign and is now threatening both Senate seats. One scenario some senior Republicans have warned about could come months ago when Collins entered the race.
All of this has frustrated some top Republicans with Collins, accusing him of putting his personal ambitions before the goal of maintaining the Senate majority.
“In a difficult election cycle like this, you really need candidates to avoid selfish decisions that make your party’s ability to win even more difficult,” said Josh Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff who still advises the GOP leader. “Obviously that didn’t happen in Georgia.”
How the two GOP candidates are courting the law
Georgia has not elected a Democratic senator in 20 years. However, Democrats are optimistic that they will compete in the state, fueled by the right-wing Republicans, growth of the Atlanta suburbs, and electoral expansion efforts under the leadership of former State House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams.
Late last year, Kemp named Loeffler after stepping down for the remainder of Senator Johnny Isakson’s tenure in Georgia. Part of the draw from Loeffler, who is married to Jeff Spokesman, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, was that she could reach out to the rapidly diversifying suburbs – especially the suburban women – and raise funds for herself. (The couple have so far spent at least $ 25 million of their own money on the race.)
The governor threatened to veto the bill, and she went nowhere.
But now the Republican candidates are spending the final days of the Senate race like in a primary, trying to target the hardcore members of their party – like Greene.
At Thursday’s event, a reporter asked Loeffler if she would accept the approval of someone who had “propagated the unsubstantiated QAnon theories” and “made inflammatory, xenophobic, controversial remarks” before asking if she was concerned about Greene the party’s brand in the EU harmful state.
“Look, I don’t know anything about QAnon,” Loeffler replied. “I know how the media twist people’s words, they do it over and over, they even make up things.”
A Georgia Republican strategist who is not affiliated with either campaign said Loeffler’s promotional event with Greene was “nothing short of a Hail Mary.”
“I think it will be devastating for them in a runoff election,” said the GOP strategist, who asked for anonymity to openly evaluate the race. “The day after election day on our side, if Kelly Loeffler somehow gets that out, there will be a complaint within five minutes that ties her to QAnon. And it won’t be good.”
When asked if he was concerned that Loeffler’s stance on conservative voters would knock out independents and potentially hurt the Senator in a runoff race, Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson told CNN that GOP Senator could paint Warnock as out of the mainstream.
“Raphael Warnock is the most radical and extreme Senate candidate in the country. We are very excited to have the opportunity to see him in the January runoff,” said Lawson.
Loeffler has held back on Capitol Hill, rarely speaking to reporters flanked by an aide and often walking by in silence when a question is asked. And on the extremely rare occasion that she answers a reporter’s request, she speaks Trump’s language.
In Georgia, however, their movements have made waves.
After the police murder of George Floyd, Loeffler, the co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, was involved in a battle with the league and its own players this summer and wrote to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in July that she was “relentless” sei “rejected the political movement Black Lives Matter, which it described as” completely wrong with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion “.
The players responded in kind and wore black shirts that said “Vote Warnock”.
Loeffler might not have had to fight battles in the Culture Wars if Collins hadn’t decided to run for the Senate.
The Georgia Congressman was the top Republican on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and led Trump’s defense during the president’s impeachment last year – something he repeatedly touted in the campaign.
Collins announced a “Trump Defender Statewide Tour” Thursday with some of the president’s strongest allies, including Florida MPs Matt Gaetz and Arizona Biggs, and former Trump advisors George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, the players of former special adviser Robert were Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Collins campaign spokesman Dan McLagan said Collins will be driving his “family suburb followed by volunteers in a 15-passenger van that drives in liberal tears”.
McLagan said Greene was “a nice endorsement for Kelly,” but said the Senator “looked about as comfortable at this press conference as a deer at a hunters’ convention.”
“Georgians know Doug is the real conservative and Kelly is a fraud,” he said.
The right wing courtship leaves the Democrats optimistic about the race.
Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, who raised nearly $ 13 million in the last quarter, has already attacked the senator for accepting Greene’s approval.
“Instead of trading in divisions and standing proudly alongside those expressing dangerous rhetoric like Marjorie Taylor Greene, we are focusing on being a voice for all Georgians,” said Warnock.
While Warnock is a big favorite to make it into a runoff election, some Democrats fear that Matt Lieberman, a Democratic candidate and son of former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, will scoop enough support to Stop Warnock from winning immediately in November.
Either way, Democratic leaders believe the GOP-GOP fighting, coupled with former Vice President Joe Biden’s aggressive game in the state, will bring their candidates down.
“If Joe Biden Georgia wears what would be a headline event in American politics, those on the other side of that equation will have a hard time,” said Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat.