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Relief program grows as campaign issue in Georgia Senate races

The $ 900 billion pandemic relief package that President Trump signed late on Sunday night gained momentum on Monday as an issue in the second round of Georgia’s Senate, with the two Republican incumbents seeking to overcome the tailwind the stimulus bill and claim credit for contributing state.

“Help is on the way”, Senator Kelly Loeffler tweeted Monday morning, applauding the stimulus package with its billions of dollars for the distribution of vaccines, schools and other beneficiaries, and a payment of 600 dollars to millions of Americans. She and her regular colleague, David Perdue, have published a declaration Sunday evening, thanking the president for finally approving the stimulus funds, avoiding the fact that Mr. Trump plunged the fate of the bill into turmoil last week by calling it a “shame” and demanding that the payments direct payments be increased to $ 2,000.

At the same time, the two Democratic candidates – Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock – criticized the Republican-led Senate on Monday for dragging their feet for months on the bill. They called the $ 600 payments too small and seized the president’s call for larger payments to strengthen their position.

“David Perdue doesn’t care about us, and $ 600 is a joke,” Mr. Ossoff told several hundred people at an outdoor rally with Mr. Warnock in DeKalb County, one of the suburban Atlanta counties. have become increasingly diversified over the past decade.

“You send me and Reverend Warnock to the Senate and we’ll put money in your pocket,” Mr. Ossoff said. He faces Mr Perdue in the second round, while Mr Warnock challenges Ms Loeffler.

Mr. Perdue ran ads attacking Mr. Ossoff for calling the $ 600 relief checks a “joke,” even though the President also called them far too small. Mr. Ossoff written on twitter that Mr. Perdue had not even promoted a first round of direct payments last spring.

Just over a week before election day in Georgia, Mr. Trump’s initial refusal to sign the stimulus package put Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue in an awkward position. Both had backed the measure passed with a direct payment of $ 600, but both are staunch supporters of Mr. Trump and risk angering him if they publicly break with him over the need to sign the bill.

“The president continues to put the two sitting Republican senators in difficult places in a hotly contested second round of the Senate,” said Bill Crane, a longtime Republican political agent and analyst in Georgia.

Despite the confusion, the president tweeted On Sunday he would make a final election appearance on behalf of both senators in Dalton, Georgia, a carpet-making hub in the north, on the eve of the election. Both races have garnered national attention and a record influx of money due to their potentially pivotal roles in determining the balance of power in the Senate.

If Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock win, there will be a 50-to-50 split, with control of the chamber passing to Democrats due to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ ability to sever ties.

The fate of the two senators in the unusual double runoff could boil down to participation in Dalton and the rest of northwest Georgia, a conservative region where Mr. Trump won 70% or more of the vote in most counties . His decision to travel to the region, where he remains popular, appears to be a last-minute effort to motivate Republican voters.

The elections appeared to be heading for a record turnout in a second round, with 2.1 million Georgians having already voted either on early voting sites or by mail. The highest turnout to date has been in democratic areas around Atlanta.

Mr Crane said he sees benefits for Democrats in early voting, voter enthusiasm and money. “Democrats are killing in mail-order voting,” Crane said, also noting that 76,000 new voters had registered since the November election, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis.

“It speaks again of enthusiasm and would play on the Democratic side,” he said.

Republicans have expressed concern that Mr. Trump’s repeated complaints of a “rigged election” – a false claim he made to explain his loss to Joseph R. Biden Jr. – are discouraging their party voters from running. in the second round of the Senate. Mr Crane said the message from far-right commentators on voter fraud has endured in the state, with some Georgians unsure whether their vote will count. “Georgia is still in conflict over whether to vote,” he said.

With early voting continuing through December, Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff’s campaigns focused on encouraging voters to vote on Monday. Their drive-in event, held in the parking lot of a Baptist church, featured performances by several rappers, including Shelley FKA DRAM, JID, Tokyo Jetz and BRS Kash.

Mr. Ossoff, who runs a documentary production company, and Mr. Warnock, the pastor of a historic Atlanta church, encouraged their supporters to go to advance poll sites or submit their ballots in ballot boxes. “The whole country is watching Georgian voters to see what we are going to do at this historic moment,” Ossoff said.

Mr Ossoff and Mr Warnock – as well as Democrats on Capitol Hill – saw stimulus checks as a winning issue and had grabbed both small payments and the president’s opposition to the stimulus package in an effort to increase their chances in Georgia. . Monday, hours before the House of Representatives votes to advance the $ 2,000 stimulus checks demanded by Mr. Trump, Mr. Ossoff tweeted, “@Perduesenate, when do you pledge $ 2,000 relief checks for Georgians?”

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