- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The announcement that presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden would hit the hustings in Georgia was greeted with less than fanfare from candidates in the runoff election for Senate.

It sounded more like crickets.

Neither the campaigns nor the respective state party offices offered comment after the announcement this week from Ron Klain, whom Mr. Biden has tapped for the White House chief of staff job, that former vice president planned to stump for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

“We’re going to work hard to help win those Senate seats,” Mr. Klain said. “I think you’ll see the president-elect campaign down there as we’re getting closer to election day. We’re going to put people, money, resources down there to help our two good candidates win.”

Georgia politicos are divided on whether Mr. Biden’s strong showing was driven by his popularity or antipathy for Mr. Trump. The too-close-to-call race in Georgia is currently undergoing a hand recount with results expected Friday.

Unofficial results showed Mr. Biden ahead of Mr. Trump by about 14,000 votes or a 0.3% margin. While one mistake in conservative Floyd County gave Mr. Trump a net 800 votes, the recounts otherwise have closely followed the initial counts.

If Mr. Biden’s edge holds, he would become the first Democrat to win Georgia since 1992.

In the runoffs, Mr. Ossoff will square off against Sen. David Perdue and Mr. Warnock takes on Sen. Kelly Loeffler. If the Democrats win both races, they would clinch a 50-50 split in the Senate and control the chamber with presumptive Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

Republican messaging in the runoff has been that GOP victories would provide an essential check on the Biden administration’s agenda and Democratic-run House.

They claim Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock would be pawns of a majority led by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and would provide the votes needed to increase taxes and pass sweeping climate change laws.

The two Democrats insist Mr. Schumer is not on the ballot and that they are offering moderate agendas, running on what they characterize as Republican attempts to strip Obamacare’s insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions. However, joining Mr. Biden on the stump may cement the image of Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock offering an unchecked Democratic majority in Washington.

On the flip side, it also unclear whether Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue would welcome rallies in Georgia by President Trump, who is contesting the election results in courtrooms across the country.

Before the Nov. 3 election, both Republican candidates ran on their strong support of Mr. Trump and his agenda.

Mr. Perdue fell just shy of the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff. He finished with 49.7% to Mr. Ossoff’s 48%. A Libertarian candidate, Shane Hazel, pulled in the remaining vote.

Ms. Loeffler beat back a challenge from the right by Republican Rep. Doug Collins in a jungle-style special election. Now she’s in a one-on-one showdown with Mr. Warnock and she holds a slight edge in the polls.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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