Biden could lose Georgia Senate races all by himself
Joe Biden won the White House, but he personally could lose the two Senate races coming up in Georgia on Jan. 5. Why? Because the president-elect, who brilliantly hid out in his basement for months and refused to take a firm stand on important issues such as fracking and packing the Supreme Court, will finally have to show his cards.
When he does that, he will alienate some in either the progressive faction or the moderate faction of his own party who are already fighting for control of the incoming administration.
He will, in effect, split his party, splintering too the coalition in Georgia and elsewhere that won him the election.
Over the next several weeks, as he puts together his Cabinet and prepares to take office, Biden will signal the direction of his White House. Is he really on board with the “unity platform” he crafted with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), or was that collaboration just aimed at getting the Bernie Bros to show up on Election Day?
Will he welcome Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) into his Cabinet, alienating the big banks and private equity firms that funded his campaign? Will he side with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in her spat with fellow Democrat Joe Manchin, who is vowing to block what he calls her “crazy socialist agenda” or join the West Virginia senator in disavowing the Green New Deal and other leftist policies?
All of this will matter to voters in Georgia who came out for Biden in record numbers even as the Peach State electorate, like all other Americans, had little idea what Biden stood for. Most likely, as with Democrats elsewhere, they were not voting for the former vice president as much as they were voting against President Trump.
Biden’s stealth campaign was geared to not alienating a single soul who was fed up with our disruptive president or anxious about the coronavirus. The Democratic Party, to its credit, hewed to that narrow message, giving Republicans little opportunity to exploit the wedge that existed all along.
That was then. Now, Democrats are gearing up for a massive brawl. They are pointing fingers at one another, trying to explain how they could win the White House but do so poorly in congressional races.
Progressives say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) interview highlighting her sub-zero refrigerator and expensive ice cream cost Democrats seats in the House. Moderates say that giving so much airtime and deference to progressives such as AOC and her “squad” undermined centrist Democrats in toss-up seats, many of whom lost.
They are both right, but they overlook the critical issue. When AOC said many months ago that in a different country she would not even be in the same party as Biden, she was correct.
Democrats have made their tent so large that the seams are ripping apart. No tent was meant to hold Rep. Ilhan Omar, the leftist Democrat from Minneapolis, and Rep. Collin Peterson, the Blue Dog Democrat from Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, one of only two Democrats to vote against Trump’s impeachment.
Peterson, who had represented his rural district for 30 years, was forced out of the tent; he was toppled by Republican Michelle Fischbach on Nov. 3.
David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the two Republican senators running for reelection in Georgia, will try to capitalize on the split in the Democratic Party. They will cast their rivals as far left and tie them to unpopular policies such as the Green New Deal, defunding the police and packing the Supreme Court. They will emphasize that unless the GOP retains control of the Senate, a liberal wish list will sail through Congress and become law. They know not all Democrats will sign up for that.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) gave Republicans a great opening right off the bat, proclaiming at an Election Day celebration, “Now we take Georgia. Then we change America.”
Perdue, an incumbent facing off against challenger Jon Ossoff, jumped on Schumer’s pledge in his first TV ad, which says: “The Schumer, Pelosi, Ossoff change? Defund police. Voting rights for illegal immigrants. Washington, D.C., as the 51st state.”
Ossoff’s first ad, interestingly, follows the Biden campaign playbook. In it, he bashes Perdue for supporting Trump and for mismanaging the coronavirus. With Trump on the exit ramp and a coronavirus vaccine in view, it will be interesting to see whether this message continues to resonate.
As Biden’s policies tiptoe into public view, Georgians may be horrified to learn just how the president-elect might try to tame the virus. Michael Osterholm, a member of Biden’s task force, recently advocated for a four-to-six-week nationwide lockdown, saying it would help bring COVID-19 under control.
Osterholm explained that the devastation such a lockdown would cause could be overcome through massive government borrowing and spending, effectively putting our economy on life support until the vaccine becomes available.
Osterholm may be an expert in infectious diseases, but he is not an economist and apparently not too swift at assessing human behavior. Recent Gallup polling shows Americans’ appetite for more lockdowns cratering as more people (82 percent, up from 64 percent in the spring) deem themselves capable of avoiding infection.
Officials trying to reimpose lockdowns in France, Germany, Italy and Spain faced riots; the same could happen here.
Perdue and Loeffler, who is competing against Democrat Raphael Warnock in the state’s special election for another Senate seat, will campaign not so much against their rivals but against the left’s agenda. They will work to win over centrist Democrats who may have voted for Biden but who do not agree with the AOC wish list.
Perdue and Loeffler will run against “changing America”; my guess is they will win.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.
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