Georgia On Your Mind?

Yankee go home!

Sen. David Perdue's stump pitch is about how re-electing him and Kelly Loeffler is the only way Georgia can prevent America from falling pray to "a radical socialist agenda," but many Trumpists are only interested in what Perdue and his sidekick are doing to overturn the election and make sure Trump gets 4 more years of owning the Libs. Writing for the Washington Post this morning, Cleve Wootson and Amy Gardner reported that "the Republican candidates in Georgia’s dual Senate runoff campaign are navigating a highly unusual political labyrinth-- caught in the middle of an intraparty war that has erupted" since Señor Trumpanzee managed to lose Georgia and then turned his rage on the state GOP leadership.

"The infighting," wrote Wootson and Gardner, "now threatens to turn off the very Republican voters Perdue and Loeffler need to stave off challenges from their Democratic rivals, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Trump and his allies have repeatedly, and falsely, accused Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans, of presiding over a fraudulent election. Trump has pushed the baseless claim that the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Georgia were rigged as part of a global conspiracy, and Perdue and Loeffler have called for Raffensperger’s resignation. But therein lies the conundrum: Perdue and Loeffler are traveling the state pleading with Republican voters to turn out on Jan. 5-- effectively asking Trump supporters to put their faith in the same voting system their president claims was manipulated to engineer his defeat."

In 2016, Trump won Georgia with 2,089,104 votes (50.44%) to Hillary's 1,877,963 (45.36%). After watching him in the Oval Office for 4 years, 372,733 more Georgians came out to vote for Trump this year. Unfortunately for him, Democrats and independents and 2016 non-voters were watching too-- and his percent of the vote sunk to 49.51%, as 596,444 more voters marked their ballots for Biden than Georgians had for Hillary. The concept that Trump increased his raw votes in Georgia and still lost is probably too abstract and complicated for typical Trump voter. Believing Trump's bullshit about election rigging (even if that points to far right Republicans Kemp-- an actual election rigger from when he was Secretary of State, but not for Democrats-- and Raffensperger) is a lot simpler for the simple mind.

There have been calls from the far right fringes among the "we love the poorly educated" crowd in Georgia-- who aren't specifically Republicans as they are fascists, racists and Trumpists-- to boycott the Senate runoffs. And that has seemed into the GOP mainstream. Wootson and Gardner reported that "One prominent Trump ally, Atlanta attorney Lin Wood, who unsuccessfully sued Georgia election officials to stop the certification of the vote, has urged Republican voters not to vote in elections with Dominion machines. Wood has attacked Perdue and Loeffler for not doing enough to help, and he told his 631,000 Twitter followers last weekend that if the senators don’t step up their support, he would take a pass on Jan. 5." Like Democrats have demanded for years, Wood is insisting on paper ballots!

Gov. Kemp's incompetent handling of the pandemic has been catastrophic for Georgians, 39 more having died yesterday, bringing the state total to 9,336. Yesterday also saw 3,608 new cases reported, for a new total of 461,517-- 43,468 cases per million Georgian. Since Georgia is officially an anti-mask state, there's no reason for mask-burning protests, so the Trumpist Q-Anon crowd has been holding "Stop the Steal" protests all over the state. David Shafer, Georgia's GOP chairman, a nut to begin with, signed a letter along with the state party executive committee demanding fresh scrutiny of signature verification on mail-in ballots, despite a hand recount showing Trump lost fair and square.

In an interview, Raffensperger said that "If Republicans don’t start condemning this stuff, then I think they’re really complicit in it. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Are you going to stand for righteousness? Are you going to stand for integrity? Or are you going to stand for the wild mob? You wanted to condemn the wild mob when it was on the left side. What are you going to do when it’s on our side?"

Georgia freelancer Kristie Chester took a deeper drive into the GOP problems-- specifically in regard to Loeffler-- last week: <>It doesn't pay to ignore the base</>. She traces the problem back to Kemp's self-interested decision to appoint Loeffler, "a Republican donor with zero political experience, over a politician with actual experience in winning elections," to the open Senate seat. Kemp hoped her gender "would staunch the bleeding in Atlanta’s suburbs, particularly Gwinnett and Cobb counties-- both former Republican strongholds."

In 2016 Gwinnett County gave Trump 146,463 votes (45.2%) and this cycle 166,413 (40.2%). Cobb County gave Trump 152,602 votes (46.7%) in 2016 and this year 165,459 votes (42.0%). The strategy was a bust and didn't even work for Loeffler herself, who basically tracked Trump.

Loeffler and her husband have invested tens of millions of dollars of their own into Republican races. Chester wrote that "it looks like the GOP sold one of Georgia’s US Senate seats to a rich donor." It looks that way because it was that way. But Chester believes Loeffler may defy the odds in January and lose the runoff.

The Atlanta metro is made up of Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, De Kalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton (Atlanta itself), Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties which accounted for 45.48% of Georgia’s total vote. Republicans only carried two, Cherokee and Fayette. "The Atlanta metro area," wrote Chester, "went so heavily Democratic that it only accounted for 31.5% of the GOP’s total votes state-wide. In comparison, Atlanta voters cast 58.5% of the total Democratic vote here in Georgia." The idea that Loeffler was going to attract educated suburban women back to the GOP ended with this ad:

By ignoring the actual base of the state's GOP when picking Loeffler, Kemp made a colossal error. Republican votes don't live in the Atlanta metro; they live in smaller cities, towns, and rural counties-- places like Roberta, Coffee County, and Cordele. Indeed, 19.85% of votes for Republican candidates in the 2020 Senate Special came from counties that cast fewer than 15,000 votes total; counties that reported less than 5,000 votes accounted for 3.6%. Chester's analysis is based on Georgia’s senate runoffs having tight margins, making the 1,381 votes in Echols County, for example, matter-- and small town voters are "Loeffler's greatest vulnerability... because Kelly Loeffler in from Illinois."

In the rural south, the phrase “where’re your people” has multiple meanings. At church, it translates into “point me towards your momma because you should not be doing that.” When you meet someone new, this question means where are you from, where are your parents, grandparents, and so on down the line from. This question gets to the heart of white rural identity.
...As we say out in the sticks, this ain’t Atlanta. Where I grew up, our neighbors readily pointed out that my momma was from Florida, but I was still a Georgian because I was born here. In their eyes, it helped that my daddy’s people were also Georgians for the last 150 years. When you heard someone mutter that “so-and-so needs to go back where he came from,” they meant New York or Chicago, not Mexico. They often followed this phrase with “damn yankee” and a hacking cough. (As a kid, hearing any phrase followed by a cough instantly signaled “do not repeat on pain of soap.”)
If you’re laughing about the yankee thing, please stop. My mema’s turning over in her grave because I just wrote a swear word. Twice, and it wasn’t damn. Substitute it for the word “traitor,” and you’ll just about have the proper meaning among rural white southerners.
1920s-style nativism is still very much a thing here. This is not the Progressive New South lauded by Atlanta Democrats. It’s the old.
When I first heard about Loeffler’s appointment, I admit that I wondered if Kemp likes his steak and gravy topped with magic mushrooms. She’s a great candidate for Atlanta. Correction, she was a great Atlanta candidate before she tried to out-conservative Doug Collins. But the GOP’s base isn’t in Atlanta. As a former secretary of state and the current governor, Kemp obviously knows where his voters live.
Perhaps, he doesn’t quite understand how some of them think. Kemp was born and raised in Athens, GA-- home of my alma mater, the University of Georgia-- which prides itself on its diversity and inclusiveness. Speaking from experience, talking like a country hick is far more of a liability in Athens than being from out-of-state. Maybe, he believed rural Georgia is more progressive than it is.
Alternatively, he slept through Georgia history.
...Loeffler understands that rural voters want someone like them. She’s taken great pains to portray herself as a highly successful farmgirl.
For months now, Loeffler has trawled small towns across Georgia for votes, speaking from the tailgate of pickup trucks and holding events at fairgrounds. Campaign rallies always begin with a line about raising a cow for 4H. In rural areas and small-towns, she shows up in jeans, a button-down shirt, boots, and a baseball cap-- her official campaign uniform. Even though her jeans and boots lack wear marks, most of us will give her a pass. Down here, new jeans are church clothes.
She even created a campaign ad of herself “going hunting.” She picked the wrong hairstyle, belt, and pants for a hunting trip, but she tried. (Doug Collins rightly maligned her for going bird hunting without a bird dog.) She does everything in her power to look and act like one of us.
...Loeffler knew that the pro-Georgian nativism prevalent in rural Georgia might scupper her dream, so she lied by omission.
Loeffler’s official senate about page talks about growing up on her family grain farm. It never mentions where. Unlike Perdue, Georgia’s other Republican senator, she was not born or raised. At all. She materialized fully grown on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She says she moved to Georgia in 2002 but never mentions where she lived before that. Church membership, family status, all the essential information Georgians typically demand from their politicians is suspiciously absent. The same pattern repeats itself on her campaign’s Meet Kelly page and in her speeches. For example, she never says where she lived when she raised the cow.
A quick Google search reveals what she left out. Why is readily apparent.
1. She was born inBloomington, Illinois... and raised in Stanford, Illinois. Among rural white Georgians, this makes her a yankee. It also means she’s from the same state that sent Barack Obama to the US Senate.
2. Her husband Jeffrey Sprecher isn’t from Georgia either. He was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin.
3. She’s a Catholic running for office in Georgia. Georgia’s 67% protestant and only 9% Catholic. It also has a history of anti-Catholicism.
...Around here, a lie by omission is still a lie. Lying about where you came from and who your people are is a cardinal sin. It is disowning everything that makes you you. That she both lied about where she comes from and then tried to reinvent herself as a Georgia farm girl is the ultimate betrayal.
...To win in January, Loeffler must persuade Collins’ [rural and small town] voters to turn out for her. This is likely why she’s hitched her wagon to Perdue. As demonstrated by the November 3rd election, Perdue has broader support among GOP voters than Loeffler.
However, Loeffler deceived Perdue’s rural white voters. She went against one of the most basic tenets of their culture-- honesty about your roots. To make matters worse, she then decided to fake it until she made it. Pretending to be one of them was a mistake, especially when her illusion falls apart with only the barest scrutiny...
There are two ways to win an election.
You turn out your voters.
You talk the other guy’s voters into staying home.
Every Sunday, Raphael Warnock stands behind the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church-- one of the most influential Black churches in the country. Ebenezer Baptist Church is in Fulton County, or as we’d say here in Georgia, right next door to Gwinnett and Cobb. Between his sermons and the massive Atlanta-based Democratic voter turnout machine, Atlanta will likely show up for the runoff. Even without these factors, attacking Georgia’s vote count and arguing that certain ballots, i.e., absentee ballots cast by minority voters in the Atlanta metro area, should be thrown out, may motivate Democratic voters. Against all my expectations to the contrary, it looks like Democrats have their voter turnout covered.
That leaves persuading Republican voters to stay home. (Admittedly, the GOP’s mini-civil war may accomplish this without any help from the Democrats.) The Democrat attack ads, talking points, and memes practically write themselves.

  • The GOP sold one of Georgia’s US Senate seats to a rich woman from Illinois of all places.

  • Loeffler lied to Georgians about who she is. To add insult to injury, she pretended to be one of us. Vote for a real Georgian.

  • Perdue thinks it’s okay for the national GOP to sell one of Georgia’s US Senate seats. He doesn’t care where she came from or that she lied. He’s a sellout, not a real Georgian.

  • Mitch McConnell and the GOP sold your senate seat to Kelly Loeffler, a rich woman from Illinois, because a Georgian wasn’t good enough for Georgia.

Chester ended by writing that her readers get the point. "Whether the now combined Osoff-Warnock campaign will take advantage of this colossal problem remains to be seen. Perhaps, they’ll take the high road and focus on their base while ignoring the inherent conflicts between Kelly Loeffler’s senate candidacy and rural white southern identity politics. After all, rural white southerners are not their base."

That thermometer on the right, in case you don't recognize it, is the Blue America 2020-'21 Senate thermometer and if you want to help retire Trumpist shills Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and replace them with Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, please click on it-- the whole image is a hot-link-- and contribute what you can to either or both candidates.