I wonder how many Georgians will get sick and how many will die because they went to Trump's event Valdosta last night. Yesterday Georgia reported 5,017 more cases and today the state crossed the half million mark-- over 47,000 cases per million Georgians. The state will soon have reported 10,000 COVID deaths. The Valdosta area is a hotspot. I didn't say many masks in the crowd. People who go to Trump events tend to have miserable lives and don't mind dyin'.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp didn't go to Trump's COVID super-spreader event in Valdosta last night. Trump has been pressuring him-- both publicly and privately-- to help him steal the election by uncertifying the results. Kemp, who, as secretary of state, notoriously stole his own gubernatorial election, has refused to help Trump. During the event, Trump threatened to back a neo-fascist primary opponent against him in 2022: "I want to thank Doug Collins. Thank you, Doug. What a job he does! Doug, you want to run for governor in two years?" Writing for the Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey reported just a few hours before the rally for Perdue and Loeffler, "Trump pressed Kemp to call a special session of the state legislature for lawmakers to override the results and appoint electors who would back the president at the electoral college... Trump also asked the governor to demand an audit of signatures on mail ballots, something Kemp has previously noted he has no power to do. Kemp declined the president’s entreaty."
The trio from The Post noted that this "latest example of Trump’s extraordinary personal effort to overturn Biden’s win comes as his legal team has met with resounding failure in its attempts to use the courts to upend the election. On Friday, the president and his allies suffered legal defeats in six states, including decisive rejections in Arizona and Nevada of their claims of fraud and other irregularities. Trump was unable to stop the certification of the vote in all the states in which he has sought to contest the results, even after making personal outreach to Republican officials in Michigan. Despite that, the president has continued to lash out at the results-- particularly in Georgia, where he was furious that Republican officials certified Biden’s win."
Sedition, right? Conspiracy too. But law professor Kathleen Clark said that "if Trump invoked his federal authority in his conversation Saturday with Kemp, or made the call from the Oval Office, he could have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from political activity in their official roles.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “I will easily & quickly win Georgia if Governor @BrianKempGA or the Secretary of State permit a simple signature verification. Has not been done and will show large scale discrepancies. Why are these two “Republicans” saying no? If we win Georgia, everything else falls in place!”
In response, Kemp tweeted: “As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia.”
Hours later, the president tweeted back: “But you never got the signature verification! Your people are refusing to do what you ask. What are they hiding? At least immediately ask for a Special Session of the Legislature. That you can easily, and immediately, do. #Transparency.”
Trump and his allies have claimed with no evidence that county election officials in Georgia accepted ballots where the voter signatures on envelopes did not match the voter signatures on file.
Even if officials audited signatures on ballot envelopes, it would be impossible to match them with the ballots themselves, which are separated from envelopes during processing to protect voters’ privacy, as required in the Georgia Constitution.
The rally was a dud, Trump just making up statistics and reading alternative "facts" off a sheet of paper one of his goons wrote for him. Mostly he just complained about the whole litany if grievances and threw in some silliness of Rev. Warnock taking away their Bibles, Beto O'Rourke taking away their guns, the Democrats being communists and Ossoff and Warnock being "the two most extreme, far left liberal candidates in the history of our country."
NY Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Astead Herndon wrote that with Trump sowing distrust in Georgia’s voting system, railing against the vote-counting machines the state used and falsely asserting that mail-in ballots were rife with fraud, he’s giving Republicans in Georgia reason to question both voting by mail and in-person voting. If even a modest number of Republicans in the state sit out the Senate runoffs, especially in rural areas where Mr. Trump’s support is strongest, it could be enough to alter the electoral math in this evenly divided state and tip the two races to the Democrats."
Before the rally, Greg Bluestein wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that "years of unsubstantiated claims about structural electoral flaws have eroded faith in the system" but only among Republicans and Trumpists. "With margins so tight, even the slightest dip in voter participation from either party could prove the difference."
Dan Balz wrote that "A divided and possibly demoralized Republican base stands as the Democrats’ best hope of winning both races. Republicans are clearly worried... but strategists on both sides say that the talk of Republicans staying home could be overstated-- not out of the question, but by no means a certainty. Republicans report that GOP voters who side with Trump on false claims that the election was stolen are as focused, if not more focused, on the runoff election as those who say the election was conducted fairly and that Biden was the winner. Democrats hope the GOP turmoil will hold down turnout but aren’t overly confident that will happen. 'There’s a lot of internal friction, but they [Republicans] traditionally tend to unify around preservation of their political power,' said Keith Mason, a longtime Democratic strategist." If you want to contribute to the Warnock and/or Ossoff campaign, click on the ActBlue Senate thermometer on the right.
Turnout in Georgia was more than 20 percent higher in November than it was in 2016-- about 5 million total votes vs. about 4 million. The electorate will shrink, as it always does for runoff elections. The concern for Democrats is whether enough of the suburban voters who turned out in November and helped Biden carry the state will show up for the runoff-- and whether they will back Ossoff and Warnock.
Republican groups are trying to shift the focus away from the presidential election to the implications of Democrats holding power in both the House and Senate. They are talking about the merits of divided government — tacit acknowledgment that Biden will be sworn in as president in January — and highlighting the implications of a Congress led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) as the new majority leader.
“It’s a completely effective message,” said a GOP strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Voters are much more scandalized by Schumer and Pelosi in charge than they are in terms of Joe [Biden] being in charge.”
Despite Biden’s victory in the presidential race, Democrats are sobered by the prospect of trying to win a pair of races in a state that, while shifting politically, is still populated by many center-right voters.
...These are elections in which little appears movable. The candidates are well-known, their images are sharply defined, the electorate is highly polarized, and there are a minuscule number of persuadable voters. For once, the cliche about turnout is correct. As one Democratic strategist put it: “We know it’s competitive and we know it’s an uphill battle, but we also know no one knows who’s really going to turn out.”
Just in case you missed it last night... five minutes of total crazy in Valdosta, Georgia: