The Importance of Georgia Runoffs

By Jeff Peterson

January 5, 2021 promises to be one of the most influential moments in modern history. The first Tuesday of the new year will hold 3 key runoff elections in Georgia. Two Senate races and Public Service Commissioner District 4 ended with no candidate obtaining 50% of the vote. Now the livelihood of millions of Georgians and Americans lies in the hands of these 3 crucial seats.

This isn’t Jon Ossoff’s first time in a Georgia runoff. In 2017, Ossoff, a Democrat, ran in the special election for the 6th congressional district against Republican Karen Handel. While Ossoff lost the election with 48.2% of the vote, he hopes to unseat Republican Senator David Perdue.

Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) is a senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Warnock is challenging Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler in this special election runoff. Loeffler was appointed to replace Senator Johnny Isakson after he resigned in December of 2019 due to health reasons.

Daniel Blackman (D) is running against incumbent Lauren McDonald Jr. (R) for Public Service Commission District 4. Blackman first ran for the seat in 2014 and for state senate in 2016, but was unsuccessful in both attempts.

In order to advance Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, Democrats need to win both Senate seats, as they will then have a 51-seat majority counting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Kentucky) remains in control of the Senate, he will most likely reject any progressive legislation the Biden-Harris administration seeks to implement. A Democrat defeat in the runoffs beg the question if the Biden victory was a one time win or if Georgia is actually in play for future elections. While Republicans seek to maintain dominance in the chamber and wait till the 2022 midterm elections, where they have a chance to control both the House and the Senate.

The Public Service Commission in Georgia will affect the prices of energy, access to high speed internet, and investments in renewable energy sources. While the race has not received the same amount of national media coverage as the Senate races, the winner will have a large impact on the daily lives of Georgians.

More than 2 million voters have already cast their votes via mail-in voting or through various absentee methods. Republicans have attempted to purge voters from voter rolls and restrict access to the polls, but Democrats have fought against these attempts. In addition, Democrats have raised over $200 million in fundraising to win back the Senate majority. This will be countered by a possible visit by President Donald Trump to Georgia, days before January 5th.