Top party officials urge Georgia Republicans to stay unified ahead of key U.S. Senate runoffs

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The head of the Republican National Committee and the chairman of the Georgia Republic Party urged party members Saturday to stay united and focused on the reelection of two incumbent GOP Senators in the special runoff elections in early January.

“If we lose the White House and lose the Senate we will never recover from that. We cannot give up.” Georgia GOP Party chief David Schaefer said at an appearance alongside Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in Marietta, Georgia.

The twin Senate runoffs on Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate at the outset of President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic administration.

During the event, some members of the partisan crowd of about 45 people expressed anger at Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

In response, Schaefer told the crowd to get past their anger and stick with the party line.

McDaniel emphasized the need for Republican voters to, if not to trust the process, then to at least remain involved in it.

“Between now and January 5 it’s going to be up to all of you,” McDaniel said. “This is your time to be bold. This is our country and it is worth every conversation, it is worth talking to your friends, your family, your coworkers, the people you go to church with. You have to go out and talk about what’s at stake.”

President Donald Trump has bitterly castigated Raffensperger for his handling of the state’s election. A hand recount of votes confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden won the state, the first Democrat to win the 16 electoral votes in 28 years.

In the Nov. 3 elections Biden beat Trump in the state by fewer than 13,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast. But Perdue led Ossoff by about 100,000 votes, finishing just short of the outright majority Georgia requires to avoid a runoff. Warnock led Loeffler in a separate special election.

Analysts said that Trump’s anger at Raffensperger and Kemp could divide the party and weaken turnout in the January runoff election. The president’s baseless claims of election fraud might also dampen GOP enthusiasm.

In the special runoff election, Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are squaring off against Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. The race is being closely watched because if the Democrats are able to win both seats, they would wrest control of the U.S. Senate from the GOP.

“We will not recognize our country if these two individuals get in the Senate,” McDaniel said.

“Right now Georgia is front and center in determining the future because you have two senators in David Perdue and Kelly Loefler who care about freedom, who voted for [Supreme Court Justice] Amy Coney Barrett who just protected religious liberties”, McDaniel said. “Senators who are going to stand for every American and for the [U.S.] Constitution when they go to Washington every step of the way.”

“[Loeffler and Perdue] are against two people who don’t care about those things. They only care about doing one thing, whatever [U.S. Senate Majority leader] Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tells them to do. Do not let their ads fool you,” she added.

McDaniel spoke for a little over six minutes before taking questions from the crowd on everything from verifying the vote count from the recent election to how future elections can be kept safe from tampering.

After the event, members of the crowd shared their views on party unity.

“Political parties always have factions within them, and people have their pet issues,” said Cobb County resident and registered Republican Kathryn Farrell, 52. “Going into the January 5 election there’s a level of unity that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Garry Guan who recently lost in a bid for a state Senate seat was on hand to show support for Loeffler and Perdue. He wore a Loeffler campaign button the lapel of his dark suit.

“It is divisive at the moment and It is very concerning,” said Guan. “We don’t have much of a chance unless we come out strong. Republicans came out in strong numbers for the [November] election but I’m worried they won’t this time.”

One of the handful of Black Republicans on hand, Melody Martin, 41, a local business owner, came to hear what McDaniel, Schaefer and others in the Republican party had planned for the near future.

Martin said she thought the state GOP would hold together. “I feel like in every party you have differences but you come together in the end. Martin said. “It’s like a family, you fight and then you get along again.”

Loeffler and Perdue did not hold public events Saturday. Ossoff spent time in Atlanta on Saturday visiting small businesses. Both he and Warnock tweeted their support of small businesses and the need for government aid to those businesses that may have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump is expected to visit Georgia on December 5 to campaign on behalf of both Loeffler and Perdue.

Laura Brown, director of the Gradual School of Political Management, said it was “problematic” for Republicans if Trump goes to Georgia and repeats his false claim the vote was rigged and that he won the state. “All he does is essentially attack Kemp and Raffensperger,” Brown said in an interview.