Former President Barack Obama is stepping up for the two Democratic candidates in the Georgia Senate Runoffs, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, by holding a virtual campaign rally for them on Friday. He’s expected to focus on the “high stakes of Georgia’s Senate races for the country’s future and the importance of signing up to volunteer,” according to state party officials.
Obama will also highlight Monday’s deadline to register to vote in the Jan. 5 runoffs, which will determine control of the U.S. Senate. Along with the candidates, he’ll be joined at the online event by Stacey Abrams and U.S. Rep.-elect Nikema Williams, the chair of the Georgia state Democratic party.
As coronavirus numbers continue to rise in the state, Obama made the decision to appear virtually so as not to endanger potential voters with an in-person event. Conversely, Mike Pence plans to visit Georgia in person on Friday, which includes a rally in Savannah with the two Republican Senate candidates, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. On Saturday, outgoing lame duck Donald Trump will campaign for the two Republicans in Valdosta.
But some members of the GOP are concerned about Trump’s visit, worried he’ll make his appearances about himself, whining about his personal losses instead of boosting the two troubled candidates he’s supposed to be helping. Both Loeffler and Perdue potentially face charges of insider trading after each traded stocks following a private January briefing on the coronavirus at the same time they were publicly downplayinh the pandemic’s threat.
Traditionally, runoffs in red southern states are a mechanism that have helped ensure Republican victories. But this year Georgia went for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1992, in part because reliable voters in the suburbs showed up to vote against the GOP. Democrats have a chance to win both runoffs if those same high-turnout voters show up on January 5th.