Republican infighting in Georgia threatens party unity at exactly the wrong time for a family argument. The runoff elections for both Georgia Senate seats will determine control of the U.S. Senate and Democrats enter the fray united, enthusiastic, and smelling blood in the water. Money from all over the United States is pouring into Democratic coffers. Their candidates are primed, cocked, and loaded for battle.
Meanwhile, Republicans are still fighting over the last election, as bitter recriminations from Donald Trump and his supporters directed against GOP officeholders in the state over Georgia’s election count—and wild charges by both sides—could result in a schism that won’t be healed in time for the January runoff.
Several outlets are reporting that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is saying fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude legal ballots. And Donald Trump spent the weekend trashing Raffensperger as being a “RINO” for allowing mail-in ballots.
Georgia Secretary of State, a so-called Republican (RINO), won’t let the people checking the ballots see the signatures for fraud. Why? Without this the whole process is very unfair and close to meaningless. Everyone knows that we won the state. Where is @BrianKempGA?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 14, 2020
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that Sen. Lindsey Graham asked him whether he had the power to reject certain absentee ballots, a question he interpreted as a suggestion to toss out legally cast votes.
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger said.
Raffensperger made the comments to The Washington Post, saying he’s faced rising pressure from fellow Republicans who want to see Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow lead in the state reversed. Nearly 5 million votes were cast in the presidential election in Georgia, and Biden was leading President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes.
At a “Stop the Steal” rally in front of the governor’s mansion, Brian Kemp was nowhere to be seen. His absence fueled more bitterness as the Wall Street Journal reports that many Republicans worry the breach may cost them one or both Senate seats.
An adviser to Mr. Raffensperger said Saturday that the secretary of state, a strong supporter of the president since 2016, was baffled by the attacks. Those who claim the election was corrupt are in “complete looneyville,” the adviser said.
“Why is this guy lying?” the adviser recalled Mr. Raffensperger asking in a reference to the president.
Calling the president of the United States a liar is not the way to win friends and influence people in Georgia.
Interestingly, both GOP Senate candidates — Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — have called for Raffensperger’s resignation for “election mismanagement.” They didn’t offer any evidence for it, but both candidates know it’s better to be on Trump’s right side rather than the wrong side in this interparty war.
Rusty Paul, a former chairman of the Georgia GOP, said the senators had no choice but to publicly disavow Mr. Raffensperger because if Mr. Trump turned on them in frustration, it would be disastrous for their re-election prospects. “If the president is tweeting bad things, the base is not coming out,” Mr. Paul said.
The Senate candidates threw Mr. Raffensperger overboard to save themselves, he said. “Somebody’s got to go,” Mr. Paul said. “This is about survival.”
Trump is like a kid with a chemistry set. He’s trying to see how many things he can blow up before he leaves office. Blowing up GOP Senate prospects in Georgia might give the president some fleeting satisfaction, but what about the rest of us? A Republican Senate is all that stands between Joe Biden and absolute power. Trump is sentencing the country to at least two years of radical Democratic control out of pique.