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Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns

Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns
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Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock plan to revive a key part of in-person campaigning in the final weeks before their January runoffs: knocking on voters' doors.

The candidates' campaigns announced Tuesday that they will start knocking on doors as Democrats look to boost turnout for the Jan. 5 runoffs. The races will determine which party controls the Senate.

“The stakes of turning out Georgians to vote for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock could not be higher," Ossoff spokesperson Miryam Lipper and Warnock spokesperson Terrence Clark said in a joint statement.

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"In close consultation with public health experts and an epidemiologist, we’ve created an in-person vote contact program with strict protocols that will allow organizers and volunteers to safely register new voters and knock doors across the state,” the aides continued. “This work is especially important for ensuring voters in communities of color, who have been left behind in the past, have the information they need to vote.”

Door knockers will wear masks and stand 6 feet back from doors before they are answered. They will also use hand sanitizer after touching any surface and confirm before they begin canvassing that they are asymptomatic.

The news of the effort was first reported by Politico.

Door-knocking, historically a hallmark of campaigning, was put on hold in Georgia and elsewhere by Democrats earlier this year in an effort to abide by social distancing and other health guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic. But Democrats are pushing to revive the tactic ahead of the January runoffs.

Voters turned out in droves for this month's general election, helping President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE flip the traditionally red state and become the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Georgia since 1992. But runoffs typically see lower turnout, and Democrats need to win both races to capture the Senate.

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Warnock is challenging Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerNikki Haley unveils PAC ahead of possible 2024 White House bid McConnell has said he thinks Trump committed impeachable offenses: report Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win MORE (R) in a special election to finish the final two years of former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler concedes to Warnock Hawley to still object to Pennsylvania after Capitol breached Hillary Clinton trolls McConnell: 'Senate Minority Leader' MORE’s (R) term, and Ossoff is running against Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueNikki Haley unveils PAC ahead of possible 2024 White House bid McConnell has said he thinks Trump committed impeachable offenses: report Trump's legacy is discord and division MORE (R). Both races are heading to runoffs because no candidate broke 50 percent of the vote this month.

The in-person campaigning will complement the existing digital infrastructure Democrats built in the state and relied heavily on during the general election efforts. Some activists and party officials questioned the decision to eschew door knocks, particularly as Republicans continued much of their in-person campaigning throughout the 2020 cycle.

The races have taken on national importance, with Republicans currently holding a 50-48 majority in the next Senate. Should Democrats win both races, they would control the chamber with Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden-Harris team unveils inauguration playlist Trump approval rating relatively unchanged in wake of Capitol rioting: NBC News poll Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday MORE being able to cast tie-breaking votes. 

Republicans have also ramped up their campaigning efforts in recognition of the national significance of the two runoffs, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee unleashing a gargantuan field program that includes 21 regional directors and 1,000 field staff across Georgia. The two races have also seen a flood of outside spending as Democratic and Republican groups look to push their candidates over the finish line.