Opinion

Georgia runoffs: Weeding out corruption with the ballot box

Image from Paras Griffin, Getty Images

by Gus Cromwell, photo editor

On Tuesday, Jan. 5, the state of Georgia held its Senate runoff elections. It was a dramatic pair of contests filled with many twists and turns, but in the end, it seemed to go over smoothly and the more honest and honorable side came out on top. 

You may be wondering why all this was happening in January when the election was in November. Allow me to explain. In the initial Senate elections in Georgia, no one candidate got over 50 percent of the vote, so these secondary elections took place with the top four nominees competing for the two seats. 

In the end, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rapheal Warnock beat out Rebublican candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. As Californians states away, we likely heard bits and pieces of drama and campaign chatter, but we may not understand the full story. 

David Perdue is a Republican who is related to the former governor of the state, has many insider friends and was, by all accounts, well liked in the state as he served as senator and leading up to election season. So why didn’t he win? Well, it was several things. The first and most glaring issue was that he declined to show up to his debate with Ossoff. You really only do that to hide or avoid something. Turns out he was probably doing the latter, as he was exposed for insider trading later in the week. As a senator, he gets to regulate companies, sometimes setting the rules for how they can succeed. Perdue was on the cybersecurity committee and traded stocks of the company Fire Eye, who provide federal malware protection. He asked the National Guard to protect Fire Eye from security breaches, keeping the company safe to keep their stock price afloat. Even though he and his team have insisted over the years that he doesn’t manage his own stock portfolio, it turns out he does. Not only is insider trading illegal, but it is usually derided by the public. This coupled with lack of debate participation and his support of the ever controversial Trump may likely have contributed to his loss, which we should all be thankful for. No one wants a crooked politician only in it for personal gain to continue to have office. 

No one wants a crooked politician only in it for personal gain to continue to have office. 

Kelley Loeffler was the incumbent senator appointed by the governor after the former Sen. Johnny Isakson stepped down due to health reasons. State law dictated that she must run in the next general election, which is why Georgia had two Senate seats in play, an extremely rare occurrence. The largest issue with her and her campaign is the fact that she’s broken the law while campaigning by soliciting donations inside the US Capitol, which is clearly illegal under Title 18 United States Code § 607.She was by far the richest member of the senate—she co-owns the WNBA team the Atlanta Sparks—yet she still somehow found it necessary to ask for money in an illegal way. She proceeded to run one of the most expensive senate campaigns in history—and still lost. Many cited how robotic she appeared during the debate, with even Fox News mocking her for repeating phrases obsessively like “radical liberal” and mentioning the American Dream often in debates

Luckily during that same debate with Loeffler, Raphael Warnock was remarkably calm and focused. While Loeffler repeated that the American Dream was at stake, Warnock continued to stay on his message and call for Georgians to vote him and Ossoff into office. Warnock has a remarkable record with public service, being the pastor at the church Martin Luther King Jr. led years ago. He seemed to be far more in touch with the issues Georgians faced and far more like a real person. 

However the most personable one running was Jon Ossoff, who expertly used TikTok of all things to help gain favor. He had almost half a million followers and he often spoke openly and candidly. He seemed to speak smoothly and know his side well during his debate against David Perdue’s vacant podium as well, and in speeches he seemed like he honestly wanted to help.  He made sure to hammer home points about getting Georgians $2,000 checks and helping pass more economic stimulus. He stressed that COVID-19 was a much more serious issue than his opponent would admit, and he seemed to understand the struggles of Georgians during this time.

As a result of Democrats Rapheal Warnock and Jon Ossoff being elected instead of their Republican rivals, the Democratic party has Senate control. This saves us from four years of non-progress for the Biden presidency, as a Republican majority Senate would likely block most of the legislation Biden would want to pass. Unfortunately the margin for error is zero, with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, meaning Kamala Harris will act as a tiebreaker if and when it’s needed. Furthermore, with mid-term elections arriving in two years, control of the Senate could once again change hands.

A lot of the president’s ambitious ideas require congressional approval, so control of both the Senate and the House are key. Without the Democratic victories in Georgia, we would have been in for years of gridlock. But more importantly, we see that Georgia chose decency and honor in Warnock and Ossoff. 

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