If you thought the 2020 elections would just fade away, think again. This past week held multiple reasons why Georgia will continue to dominate political headlines nationally.
First, there was the somewhat surprising move by former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to make clear he’s thinking about running against Democratic U.S, Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022, getting the jump on ex-U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville and others.
In a message to supporters, Perdue dusted off some of his favorite 2020 attacks (‘radical’ and ‘liberal’) and groused about being forced into a runoff in November.
“More than 52% of Georgians rejected my opponent,” the Republican told his supporters, a line which reminded me of former U.S. Sen. Wyche Fowler, the Democrat who lost a 1992 Senate runoff after also narrowly missing the 50 percent threshold.
But the Perdue news was soon upstaged by Donald Trump, as the former President turned his fire on some favorite Georgia targets.
“Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party,” Trump said in a statement, bashing them on “Election Integrity.”
Yes, Mr. Trump is still pushing the same false accusation that election fraud cost him a victory in November.
On Capitol Hill this week, Democrats had a much different view of the election — saying it was a success despite the Coronavirus pandemic.
“About 100 million Americans voted early,” said U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, praising efforts to expand mail-in and absentee voting.
“The flexibility was crucial in keeping many Americans safe,” Bishop said at a hearing.
While Mr. Trump was again raising false charges of election fraud in Georgia, the head of one federal election agency told lawmakers he saw something much different.
“I can unequivocally say that this was the best-administered election that I have seen in my career,” said Ben Hovland, head of the federal Election Assistance Commission.
At a House hearing, Hovland specifically praised the ‘hand inspection in Georgia that reconfirmed the machine tallies.’
“Elections officials did an amazing job,” added Hovland, who worked with Georgia in 2020 to recruit poll workers, and helped with federal grant money to buy drop boxes for absentee voting.
“You had about 95 percent of Americans vote on a paper ballot or a paper audit trail,” which Hovland said was crucial to public confidence in the final numbers.
Unless you’re Donald Trump.
“It was a complete disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states,” Trump said, as Republicans pressed ahead with new absentee voting restrictions in the state legislature, drawing criticism from Democrats.
“We must expand access to the ballot box, not limit it,” said Sen. Warnock.
The 2020 elections may be over. But Georgia’s national role is not.
Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column will appear weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com