After Nov. 3, the presidential election was not the only subject of hot debate. Georgia’s Senate elections have captured the attention of the entire country these past few weeks. The Democrats flipped two Senate seats in the November election with Mark Kelly’s win in Arizona and John Hickenlooper’s win in Colorado.
The Republicans flipped Senator Doug Jone’s seat in Alabama with the election of Tommy Tuberville. Republicans have now secured 50 seats and Democrats have 48, including two independents who caucus with the Democrats. With two more Democratic winners and Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris (who acts as a tie-breaker), Democrats would reclaim the majority that they haven’t had for the past six years.
Both Senate seats in Georgia are currently up for grabs in the Jan. 5 runoff. One runoff is for the usual election that occurs this cycle, while the other is for a special election. The special election decides the seat that Republican Senator Johnny Isakson vacated after his health-based resignation on December 31, 2019. Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler as Isakson’s interim replacement (effective Jan. 6, 2020) until voters had the opportunity to vote on the seat in the special election on Nov. 3.
With no primary election, 14 candidates were on the ballot for Loeffler’s seat, including eight Democrats and six Republicans. Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler emerged as the top two vote getters, with 32.9% and 25.9% of the votes, respectively. Because neither candidate hit the 50% threshold, a runoff was scheduled, in which voting will end Jan. 5. In order to inform potential Pace voters, here is an overview of both candidates.
Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock
Reverend Warnock is the current senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the same church that Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. served. Here is his stance on various political issues, according to Warnock for Georgia.
Healthcare: Warnock supports the Affordable Care Act, and plans to defend protections for pre-existing conditions. He supports Roe v. Wade, and hopes to take action against biases in the healthcare system that cause problems like higher maternal mortality for Black women.
LGBTQ+ Rights: Warnock is a self-declared LGBTQ+ ally and hopes to fight for the Equality Act, which would protect members of the community from housing, financial and employment discrimination. He would also push to expand access to PrEP, a drug which prevents contracting HIV.
Climate: Warnock intends to push to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord, an international agreement in which participating countries promised to try and fight climate change. He also supports the goal of having a clean economy by 2050 and believes that polluters and utility companies should be held accountable for any damage done to the Earth.
Criminal Justice Reform: Warnock’s goal is to reasonably fund police departments (how, exactly, he doesn’t say) and reduce needless gun violence. He also has made it his goal to help end mass incarceration, as well as private prisons.
Immigration: Warnock’s website does not mention immigration. According to Bustle, he preached a sermon in which he posited that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is incomplete without Dreamers. The DREAM Act would allow Dreamers, the people who illegally entered the country as minors, to achieve permanent residency.
Jobs and the Economy: Warnock believes in protecting the dignity of work by supporting “honest wages, protected retirement, and fair overtime compensation.” He also hopes to help small business owners, especially entrepreneurs of color and women, attain capital and support.
Republican Kelly Loeffler
Kelly Loeffler is an American businesswoman, and currently holds the Senate seat through appointment by Gov. Brian Kemp. Here is her stance on various political issues, according to Loeffler for Georgia.
Healthcare: Rather than entrust more of the healthcare system to the government, Loeffler plans to expand healthcare options, believing a public option to be akin to socialism. She released a full plan that also aims at lowering medication prices, called the Modernizing Americans’ Health Care Act.
LGBTQ+ Rights: Loeffler has no official statement on her website about LGBTQ+ rights. According to NBC News, however, in 2019, she supported an act that would remove the right of trans women to participate in female sports.
Climate: Loeffler’s website did not mention the climate crisis, and she has no current track record on climate change.
Criminal Justice Reform: Loeffler’s website also did not mention the criminal justice system. According to the AJC, Loeffler has supported a Republican bill (never passed) that intended to make it easier for Georgia to declare a murderer “guilty but mentally retarded” (widely viewed to be an extremely outdated term) and thus spare the accused from execution. According to her website, she also hopes to “fully fund the police,” a response to the current “defund the police” movement.
Immigration: Loeffler supports a Southern border wall, and hopes to defund “dangerous sanctuary cities.” She also plans to enable immigration judges to crack down more harshly on those found breaking immigration laws.
Jobs and the Economy: Loeffler supported a $6.1M contract for mask production in Georgia, producing 36 million masks a month and creating jobs. She also announced that Georgia was to receive $15.2M from the U.S. Department of Labor to address the workforce impact of COVID and to help rural communities with workplace development.
The race for the other open Senate seat is between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff. At the end of vote counting, Perdue had 49.7% of votes, while Ossoff had 48%. Because neither reached the halfway point, the race is going to a runoff.
Republican David Perdue
David Perdue has held the senior Senator seat since 2015. Before becoming a politician, Perdue held the CEO position of multiple companies. Here is his stance on various political issues, according to Perdue for Senate.
Healthcare: Perdue supported the bipartisan CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 crisis, an act that prioritized $16 billion for Georgia hospitals and healthcare workers. He also is “working with President Trump and the Senate to ensure transparency in prescription drug pricing.”
LGBTQ+ Rights: According to I Side With, Perdue supports same-sex marriage, but believes that churches should be allowed to refuse to marry them. He believes in equal adoption rights for LGBTQ+ couples, but doesn’t believe that gender identity should be added to anti-discrimination laws.
Climate: According to I Side With, Perdue believes that the government should not increase environmental regulations to prevent climate change. He also supports fracking, a process largely deemed detrimental to the environment. He also supports the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Criminal Justice Reform: According to his website, Perdue opposes the “lawless defund the police movement.” He supports the First Step Act, which removes mandatory minimums for first time, nonviolent drug offenders.
Immigration: According to his website, Perdue believes in physical barriers at “strategic points along our Southern border” and wants to move towards a merit-based immigration system.
Jobs and the Economy: During his time in office, Perdue has rolled back “onerous regulations and taken action to release our energy potential.” He has also cut taxes for Georgia families and small businesses. He also rolled back Dodd-Franklin regulations.
Democrat Jon Ossoff
Jon Ossoff is an investigative journalist, and has had experience as a national security staffer and aide to Representative Hank Johnson for five years. Here is his stance on various political issues, according to Ossoff for Senate.
Healthcare: Ossoff supports the establishment of a public healthcare option, while maintaining private insurance choices. The public option would be comprehensive and “affordable for all” with “no deductibles for necessary care.” Ossoff also promises to vote to strengthen the Affordable Care Act.
LGBTQ+ Rights: Ossoff plans to support the Equality Act and oppose the transgender military ban. He will support anti-bullying plans for LGBTQ+ students currently in the school system.
Climate: Ossoff plans to support an infrastructure plan that includes large investments in clean energy sources. He will also push for America to immediately re-enter the 2015 Paris climate accord and for a rapid ban on single-use plastics.
Criminal Justice Reform: Ossoff plans to champion a New Civil Rights Act that strengthens civil rights laws and advances comprehensive criminal justice reform. He will also work to reverse the militarization of police forces, abolish the death penalty, legalize cannabis and end incarceration for nonviolent drug offenses.
Immigration: Ossoff is staunchly against the family separation policy, and will work to create a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants already residing in the U.S. He believes in extensive reform of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and wants to crack down on those who employ undocumented immigrants.
Jobs and the Economy: Ossoff does not believe in the “trickle down” ideology and claims that he will lower taxes for all but the wealthiest Americans, support fast and generous direct emergency relief during economic crises, support debt-free public college and free vocational training. He will also work to overcome American dependence on China, and will support domestic producers.