The Jolt: Debates get pushed off in two U.S. Senate races

A screenshot of this week's debate in the debate for the U.S. Senate race held by Kelly Loeffler. Atlanta Press Club/GPB
A screenshot of this week's debate in the debate for the U.S. Senate race held by Kelly Loeffler. Atlanta Press Club/GPB

Credit: Atlanta Press Club/GPB

Credit: Atlanta Press Club/GPB

With Nov. 3 only 11 days away, the calendar should be stocked with debates around this time of year. But instead, a lot of question marks are popping up.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s campaign postponed a WTOC-TV debate appearance scheduled for Tuesday until next week, citing a procedural a vote on a coronavirus relief measure that failed to move.

The timing was opportune: His Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff, quickly raised $2 million after Perdue mocked the pronunciation of vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris' name the previous Friday -- and Ossoff was sure to ratchet up the attacks at a debate aimed at voters on the Georgia coast.

Now we’ve picked up word that a Sunday showdown in the special election for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seat for Channel 2 Action News will also be delayed. Loeffler, too, is citing procedural matters in the Senate, depriving Republican Doug Collins, who has less money to burn on TV, of a weekend forum.

Updated: A Loeffler spokesman has checked in to let us know that his candidate will be presiding over the Senate on Sunday, when the chamber takes up a motion to shut down any attempt at a filibuster over the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. (The actual confirmation vote is expected Monday night.) Presiding over the chamber is a rather choice gig, especially on this particular issue -- with far better optics than a debate.

Earlier this week, Politico.com reported that incumbent Republican candidates in three U.S. Senate races -- in the red-leaning states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi -- were eschewing televised debates with their Democratic opponents:

A closer race in Michigan between Democrat Sen. Gary Peters and Republican businessman John James also likely won’t produce a debate, though it’s because of disagreements over the forum.

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At this point in an electoral contest, especially in important statewide contests, it is fair to assume that candidates control their own movements and are where they want to be -- when they want to be there.

Perdue and Loeffler may not be walking away from televised confrontations with their opponents. Not yet, anyway. That would leave them open to attacks of another sort. But every day a debate is deferred is a day each candidate remains in control of his and her own messaging, lessening the impact of any self-generated flubs and attacks from an opponent.

The results in both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate races could be decided by only a few percentage points. So these delays matter.

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We may be late to this, but the Gwinnett County GOP has issued a resolution in opposition to the expansion of MARTA into the county, an issue that is on the Nov. 3 ballot. One reason:

“[I]n this current environment of the Wuhan Virus (Covid-19) MARTA ridership has dropped 90%. New York City had the highest death rate in the U.S., and most experts now agree it was public transportation that spread the virus.”

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Already posted: The Sunday column on the impact Senate race No. 2 could have on GOP support for criminal justice reform.

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Also already posted: Jon Ossoff’s aides said Friday that operatives with the conservative group Project Veritas Action recently tried to infiltrate the Democrat’s campaign for U.S. Senate and recorded undercover video of his parents and a field organizer:

His campaign spokeswoman, Miryam Lipper, said the group used “deceitful tactics,” including ambushing one of his aides while at a coffee shop this week with a woman he thought he was courting on a date.

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The latest campaign filings show U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler raised about $484,000 in the first two weeks of October. Her Republican arch rival, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, collected roughly $225,000 over the Oct. 1-14 span.

Loeffler also loaned another $3 million to her campaign during that time, bringing the grand total for her spending to $23 million.

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In endorsement news: The Georgia Chamber backed U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s re-election bid against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

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State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick’s tweet that appeared to take literally a comment about “coyotes” helping undocumented immigrants cross the U.S.-Mexico border went viral after Thursday night’s presidential debate.

“Did @realDonaldTrump just say 545 kids they can’t find their parents for came over through ‘cartels and coyotes’?! How the hell does a coyote bring a whole human across the border?! Lord-----stop talking,” she wrote on Twitter.

To be fair, a lot of folks were similarly confused. Still, Kendrick’s elected position made her especially ripe for ripostes. And there were many people who, in thousands of replies, made fun of her apparent lack of knowledge about immigration policy. A few stepped up to explain the terminology to the Lithonia Democrat: “Coyotes” are people paid to help guide or smuggle others across the border.

Never one to miss an opportunity to jab at the other side, here was the response from Republican Party of Georgia Chairman David Shafer: “She thinks Trump was referring to the cartoon nemesis of the Road Runner. She is also one of the brightest Democrats in the Georgia General Assembly.”

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Joyce Griggs, the Democrat running against GOP incumbent Buddy Carter in Georgia’s First District congressional contest, has posted a video on social media narrated by Marcus Arbery, the father of Ahmaud Arbery.

The father speaks about the importance of voting and encourages Georgians to cast ballots in memory of his son and other Black people whose deaths sparked anti-racism protests this year. The younger Arbery was killed in Brunswick, which is in the First District.

Although Arbery doesn’t mention Griggs or any candidate by name in the video, it ends with a display of her campaign logo.

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The producers of the “John Lewis: Good Trouble” documentary have launched a website with resources to help encourage voter participation this year. They promoted the initiative with a full-page ad that ran in Thursday’s edition of the newspaper.

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Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones is hitting the campaign trail on Donald Trump’s behalf. The DeKalb Democrat will host a “Second Chance Voices for Trump” in Cary, N.C. These events focus more heavily on the president’s criminal justice reform initiatives.

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