Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will meet with Vice President Mike Pence on Friday, November 20, 2020 at the Cherokee Conference Center in Canton, Georgia, USA for an election freeze.
Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Weeks ahead of two critical runoff elections in Georgia, both races appear to be focused on allegations of inappropriate stock trading and President Donald Trump’s mixed message about the integrity of the state’s ballot papers.
The competitions feature two Republican incumbents – David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler – against two Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
It’s not just about two Senate seats held by the GOP for a long time, but also about party control of the Upper House of the US Congress. In the truest sense of the word, Georgian voters will single-handedly decide the course of Congress policy for 2021.
The ballot includes the size of President-elect Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” economic plan, the chances of meaningful tax reform, the balance between progressives and moderates in the cabinet, and the composition of federal courts across the country.
It is “impossible to overestimate the importance of the Georgia runoff,” wrote Cowen analyst Chris Krueger Thursday morning.
“The fate of federal politics in 2021 will be decided by two Georgia Senate elections – period,” he added. “Dems both have to win to get a Senate majority. This is almost a jump ball in our eyes.”
Both runoff elections are scheduled for January 5th; Polls will close at 7:00 p.m. ET.
In the run-up to the runoff election, Republicans secured 50 Senate seats and Democrats 48, including two independent Senators, who are meeting with Democrats.
In other words, Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell only needs to keep a seat in Georgia to consolidate a majority in the chamber, while the Democrats need to win both for a 50:50 split. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tiebreaker in the Senate votes that resulted in a tie.
Rev. Raphael Warnock, U.S. Democratic Senate candidate, speaks during an election night on November 3, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jessica McGowan | Getty Images
Georgia has been largely viewed as a Republican stronghold for the past 30 years, dominated by GOP politicians at both the state and federal levels.
When Georgian officials confirmed last month that Joe Biden was the first Democrat to run the state in presidential elections since 1992, it sparked political shock waves across the country and ensured control of the U.S. Senate was far from secure was.
While there are few polls to gauge how Georgia voters are feeling about either race, online betting markets suggest that players expect a wafer-thin margin on election day.
In particular, both Republican incumbents are defending themselves against allegations of outmoded stock trading and trying to convince voters that their stock deals were harmless.
According to a New York Times survey published Wednesday, Perdue’s 2,596 deals during his first term accounted for nearly a third of all Senatorial deals reported in the past six years.
Transactions, mostly in stocks but also in bonds and funds, roughly match the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate, according to the Times report.
Senator David Perdue, R-Ga., Standing for re-election, speaks during a campaign rally at Peachtree Dekalb Airport in Atlanta, Georgia on Monday, November 2, 2020.
Tom Williams | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images
Some of its deals, including the sale of more than $ 1 million worth of shares to a financial analyst, Cardlytics, have reportedly sparked federal investigations at the Justice Department.
Both Perdue and Loeffler deny allegations of illegal or improper stock trading.
Nonetheless, Perdue’s opponent and Atlanta native Ossoff picked up this investigation and tried to use it effectively in his campaign against the incumbent.
“Perdue might have responded appropriately to the Covid-19 pandemic had Senator Perdue not fought off several federal investigations into insider trading,” Ossoff said during a debate against Perdue in October.
“As well as being a crook, Senator, you’re attacking the health of the people you represent,” added Ossoff.
U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) speaks to supporters during a campaign event at Bare Bones Steakhouse on October 28, 2020 in Buford, Georgia. Senator Loeffler is running for re-election after being appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp following the resignation of Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) in January.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Loeffler, who came under fire for trading deals following Senate hearings earlier this year, is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange. The couple’s total net worth is approximately $ 520 million, according to The Washington Post.
The business of spokesman and Loeffler, which sold securities worth up to 3 million US dollars, took place in the weeks before the stock market indices due to the coronavirus pandemic and after a private, all-senator information about the virus outbreak dramatically declined in value by Trump administration health officials who Loeffler attended on Jan. 24.
Loeffler faces a challenge from Warnock, a pastor in the same Atlanta church that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. pastored in the 1960s.
Trump was an outspoken critic of the recent elections in Georgia and has claimed without evidence that the state’s results were fraudulent.
The president has spent weeks trying to harmonize two contradicting realities: one in which Georgia and its electoral system are marked by “massive electoral fraud” and another in which he implores the state’s voters to use the same system for the re-election of Perdue and Use Loeffler.
Trump’s attacks and even more extreme conspiracies by his allies have made other Republican leaders concerned that his broadsides might squeeze GOP turnout in January.
Conservative attorneys like Trump supporter Lin Wood have continued to file protracted lawsuits against election results in key states and have stepped up their conspiracy claims outside of court.
At a large personal rally in Atlanta on Wednesday, Wood viciously attacked Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp, urging Perdue and Loeffler to call for a special session of the state’s legislature.
“We’re not going to vote on another machine from China on January 5th!” Wood told the crowd.
Over the past few weeks, Trump has been appealing to Georgia voters, continuing to criticize Republican leaders and pressurize them to take steps to reverse Biden’s victory there.
“We’re not sure anyone has an exact model of what the turnout for a runoff election will be like during a pandemic when in control [the] senate [is] on the game and Trump’s basis must not [turn out] because the president convinced them that the election is a fraud immortalized by the Deep State, “wrote Cowen analyst Krueger.
The president tweeted Thursday morning, “The Georgia ‘Republican’ governor, @BrianKempGA, and the secretary of state MUST immediately allow a signature verification match in the presidential election.”
“When that happens,” added the President, “we will quickly and easily win the state and, most importantly, pave the way for a great David and Kelly WIN!”
– CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to the coverage.