President Trump Heads To South GA Amid Senate Runoffs
President Donald J. Trump returns to South Georgia this weekend as a lame-duck leader who will leave office next month. But the president can still mobilize a lot of Republicans, whose votes are needed in two upcoming runoff elections for the U.S. Senate.
The last time Trump came to Valdosta was in 2016 amid the presidential election. Now, he's returning to rally support for Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. The visit to the city's airport on Saturday night comes amid escalating tensions over Trump's loss to Joe Biden in Georgia, which had been a reliably Republican state in presidential elections for decades. There have been threats of physical violence against election workers, and Trump has repeatedly castigated Gov. Brian Kemp for allowing voter fraud, despite no proof of it.
Valdosta State University political scientist James LaPlant says Republicans need their base in South Georgia to turnout in order to offset Democratic strength in Atlanta and its suburbs and other cities.
"They're [Republicans] going to have to run up large margins in these areas to be able to withstand the urban vote that comes in from Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah. It doesn't surprise me that he's here," LaPlant said. "You know, we'd better run up huge margins in the rest of the state because we are going to be underwater in urban areas. We're also in trouble in the suburbs of Atlanta. It's an increasingly challenging strategy that they're running into here in Georgia."
Polls show both Senate races are very close, with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both capable of pulling off victories. Democrats need to win both seats to forge a 50-50 tie in the Senate, where the next vice president, Kamala Harris, could break a tie. Republican need to win only one seat to stay in control.
The last day Georgians can register to be able to vote in the two runoff elections is Monday, Dec. 7. The election is Tuesday, Jan. 5.