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‘Year of the revelation’: runoff follows pandemic, protests and testing of Atlanta promise

Whenever someone tries to hit Nikema Williams for not being from the city, she responds that her story is inherently Atlantean. Ms Williams, who was elected in November to the former seat of Representative John Lewis in Congress after his death last year, grew up in Smiths Station, just above the Chattahoochee River in Alabama, raised in a house without interior plumbing.

As a student at Talladega College, a historically black small school in Alabama, she and her friends traveled to Atlanta to shop and party. Ms Williams, a Democrat who recently served in the state Senate, saw black elected officials, business leaders, artists and civil rights activists. “You have seen black people fully live out the promises of this country,” she said.

“I moved here without knowing a soul,” Ms. Williams said, “but I was able to get involved, get engaged and find my way.” But, she added, “we still have a long way to go.”

A gap has always existed between the aspirations of the “Atlanta Way” and the lived reality of many residents.

“Atlanta is unique and in this special way,” Ms. Lee said. “And yet, let’s be clear when we think about what that means: we have this reality, and some sort of hype and PR campaign – and they’re separate things.”

A series of events this year shed new light on the divide.

One evening in May, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody sparked protests across the country, crowds in Atlanta smashed windows in downtown businesses, vandalized the CNN Center and set a police car on fire. “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told a press conference, which was repeatedly broadcast on local television and radio stations.

The protests took on new strength after Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Atlanta police. Officers had been called to a Wendy’s parking lot where, according to authorities, Mr. Brooks fell asleep in his car in the driveway. The town’s police chief, Erika Shields, has resigned and the officer who shot Mr Brooks has been fired and charged with murder.

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How the impending Georgia runoff changed political calculations in Washington.

A pair of Senate rounds in Georgia that will determine which party controls the House reorganized the political world in the days following the election, influencing nearly every decision by members of both parties, including the refusal of most Republicans to recognize President-elect Joseph R Biden Jr.’s victory.

Senators are organizing day trips to Atlanta to campaign. Party leaders are carefully calibrating their post-election messages to frame the fight on the ground. And Mr Biden’s transition team is tailoring their plans to two drastically different outcomes, setting up an ambitious agenda in case the Democrats are able to win both races and take control of the Senate, and a more sober agenda in the case they fail.

The most shocking consequence has been the Republicans’ refusal to challenge Mr. Trump’s false claims that he won the election. While most prominent Republicans have not reiterated his claims, they have also refused to acknowledge Mr Biden’s clear victory, fearing it will anger the president and his loyal base of supporters before January.

“We need his constituents,” Second-ranked Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota said on Wednesday. “Right now he’s trying to take the final stages of his election and determine the outcome there. But when all is said and done, however it turns out, we want him to help Georgia.

The stakes are incredibly high for both camps. With Republicans on track to control 50 Senate seats and Democrats 48, the Jan.5 double runoff will determine how much power Mr. Biden can wield in a post-Trump Washington.

The contests pit two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. But they are quickly nationalized in referendums on Mr. Biden’s victory and the country’s leadership.

The impact was apparent throughout the Capitol. California Democrat President Nancy Pelosi privately warned House members to watch their words in the coming weeks to deny Republicans any new ammunition to caricature Democrats as extremists.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, criticized Mr. Trump and expressed outrage at Democrats insisting the president concede.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio was on the ground Wednesday in suburban Atlanta to rally Ms. Loeffler to a Rallye Save Our Majority, an indoor event in which many participants did not wear masks. Senator Rick Scott, the newly elected chairman of the Republican campaign arm of the Senate, is due to host a fundraiser in the state on Thursday.

And Vice President Mike Pence told senators on Tuesday that he plans to travel to Georgia next week to campaign.

Democrats were looking to rally their own voters and donors in a long-drawn-out attempt to win both races in a historically conservative state where their party has often failed in contests.

“As far as the Senate is concerned, it’s not over at all,” Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said on Wednesday. “Georgia is near.”

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Facing a runoff, Georgia’s Republican senators are calling on the state’s top election official, also a Republican, to resign.

Georgia’s Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on Monday called for the resignation of the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, as they accused his office of failing to oversee fair and transparent elections without evidence or raising specific concerns.

Their extraordinary joint statement on Monday came as the divide between Georgia’s Republicans deepened as Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead over President Trump continued to grow, pushing the president’s supporters to go after Mr. Raffensperger, who is a Republican.

“We believe that when there are failures, they should be exposed – even when it is in your own party,” said the senators in their statement, which did not make specific allegations or explain how. they thought Mr. Raffensperger had failed.

“Fair elections are essential to the foundation of our democracy,” they said. “The Secretary of State failed to organize honest and transparent elections. He let the Georgian people down and he should resign immediately.

Mr. Raffensperger responded quickly in a personal statement. “Let me start by saying that this is not going to happen,” he said.

“I know the emotions are running high,” he added. “Politics are involved in everything right now. If I were Senator Perdue, I would be irritated to be in a second round. And the senators and I are all unhappy with the potential outcome for our president.

Mr Raffensperger said the process for reporting the results was orderly and followed the law.

The results in Georgia drew attention and alarmed Republicans, as Mr. Biden outclassed Mr. Trump by more than 10,000 votes in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2016. Both senators were forced to participate in elections. second-round races against the Democrats, contests that could determine control of the Senate.

Mr. Trump continued to falsely insist that the election was stolen from him. The move by the senators, who have both been closely aligned with the president, also underlines the infighting unfolding among Republicans even as the party braces for a bitter showdown in the January second round.

Some conservatives fear that challenging the electoral process will depress the vote of Republican voters, who may not run if they do not trust the legitimacy of the electoral process.

“Trump is going to cost the GOP in the Senate,” Erick Erickson, a Georgia-based conservative commentator, written on twitter. “His supporters are internalizing the fact that the election in Georgia was stolen, so why even try.”

In a briefing ahead of the statement’s release on Monday, Gabriel Sterling, the head of the implementation of the voting system for Mr Raffensperger’s office, sought to debunk the various allegations that had been circulating and said the election went smoothly, despite long queues at times during early voting. . He noted that the average wait time to vote on Election Day was two minutes – “it’s unheard of in this state.”

“The facts are the facts, whatever the results,” he said, adding, “In this state, this time this election on Election Day has been an incredible success.”

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Here’s why Georgia’s runoff matters.

As the dust settles from the presidential race, the eyes of the political world have already shifted to Georgia, where the second round of elections slated for early January will almost certainly determine which party controls the Senate.

The outcome of the contests, which will take place two weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., will shift the majority towards Democrats, giving the new president broad power to carry out his political agenda and push through nominations. . as he sees fit, or leave the Republicans in charge, allowing them to influence his plans.

In the coming weeks, tens of millions of dollars in campaign money are expected to flow into the state to fund a political advertising marathon, as party leaders and interest groups on both sides draw their attention to races.

Click here to learn more about how it works.

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What is a runoff and why are there two? Here’s why Georgia matters

As the dust settles from the presidential race, the eyes of the political world have already shifted to Georgia, where the second round of elections slated for early January will almost certainly determine which party controls the Senate.

The outcome of the contests, which will take place two weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., will shift the majority towards Democrats, giving the new president broad power to carry out his political agenda and push through nominations. . as he sees fit, or leave the Republicans in charge, allowing them to influence his plans.

In the coming weeks, tens of millions of dollars in campaign money are expected to flow into the state to fund a political advertising marathon, as party leaders and interest groups on both sides draw their attention to races.

Here is how it will work.

A second round of election is essentially a rematch that takes place when none of the candidates meet the criteria for victory. Under Georgian law, candidates must obtain a majority of votes to win an election. If neither candidate breaks the 50%, the top two vote-winners face off again in a second round to determine the winner.

Georgian second-round law was created in the 1960s as a way to preserve white political power in a predominantly white state and reduce the influence of black politicians who could more easily win in a multi-candidate race with a plurality of voice, according to an Interior Ministry. report.

Since the 1990s, Democrats have won only one of seven statewide ballots in general or special elections, according to Inside Elections, the non-partisan political bulletin.

As the Senate elections are staggered so that two state seats are not re-elected at the same time, it has been an unusual year for Georgia.

Senator David Perdue, a Republican, faced a normal re-election race for the seat he won in 2014. Additionally, Senator Kelly Loeffler, another Republican named last year to succeed Senator Johnny Isakson after having retired due to health concerns, faced a special election for the remainder of his term until 2022.

Their two races went to the second round because neither they nor their challengers garnered at least 50% of the vote.

After an extended tally that ended on Friday night, Mr Perdue fell just below the majority he would need to win re-election against Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, sending them both to a run-off. In 2017, Mr. Ossoff lost in the second round of the elections for a seat in the House.

It has been clear since Tuesday that Ms Loeffler’s race would be decided in a second round, after Reverend Dr Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Ms Loeffler proved to be the top two in a crowded peloton competing to replace Mr Isakson. .

Georgian law stipulates that the second round must take place on the Tuesday of the ninth week after the elections. That puts them on January 5. Voters must be registered to participate by December 7.

The state will hold three weeks of early voting. Registered voters can vote by mail if they request a vote by mail.

It has traditionally been more difficult for candidates to convince voters to run for elections that do not feature a presidential ballot, and this special election will come shortly after the New Year with the country still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past, Democrats have struggled in such races, with Republicans dominating the format in conservative learning Georgia.

But both parties are expected to devote considerable resources to training their voters for the second round, and as there are no other races in the country, huge national attention will be focused on the Georgia.

The stakes will be high. The Republicans hold a majority of 53 to 47, but after this week’s election they were tied 48 to 48 with the Democrats. While Senate races in Alaska and North Carolina have yet to be triggered, Republicans are expected to win in those states, which would give the party control of 50 seats.

If Republican leaders in those states hold, Democrats would have to capture both seats in Georgia to ensure a 50-50 tie in the Senate. Then, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could cast decisive votes to carry out the Democratic agenda. If they lost one, Republicans would retain their majority, albeit by the tiniest of margins.

With judicial nominees, a stimulus deal, infrastructure and health care measures, as well as tax and spending policies all at stake, Senate races in Georgia are expected to pick up an intensity that mirrors the presidential race. which just ended.

And with President Trump refusing to concede and baselessly accusing him of the election being stolen from him, Republicans will likely try to use their grievances about the presidential race to galvanize their voters to travel to Georgia and deny Mr. Biden the Senate that he would. need to get things done.