Ossoff Hammers Gingrich, Republicans Oppose Braves Name Change

December 15, 2020by Patricia Murphy and Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)
December 9, 2020, Macon, Georgia, USA: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate JON OSSOFF urges his supporters to vote early in the upcoming Georgia runoffs during a drive-in campaign rally. (Credit Image: © Sue Dorfman/ZUMA Wire)

ATLANTA — The first day of in-person early voting for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate runoffs started Monday, and with it came the final, frenzied effort by all four Senate campaigns to get their supporters to the polls.

Jon Ossoff continued his “Health, Jobs, and Justice” statewide bus tour Monday with a stop in Gwinnett County, one of several crucial suburban counties outside Atlanta that Ossoff will need to win handily to pull ahead in his effort to unseat GOP Sen. David Perdue.

Gwinnett was a GOP stronghold as recently as 2012, when Mitt Romney easily carried the county over then-President Barack Obama. But an influx of new residents and a rapidly diversifying population has all but solidified Gwinnett as a Democratic stronghold. Ossoff won the county by 12 percentage points in November.

Portions of Gwinnett were also once represented by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who lamented on Twitter over the weekend that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is adding more ways for Georgians to vote and making it “harder for Republicans to win.”

Ossoff slammed Gingrich’s comments as perpetuating voter suppression.

“Newt Gingrich is upset that Secretary Raffensperger is not abusing his authority to disenfranchise people,” he said. “Newt Gingrich wants the apparatus of voter suppression that’s been built in Georgia since the Shelby County v Holder decision in 2013 to suppress black voters in the state and win elections through voter suppression.”

Before leading the group to a nearby early voting polling station in Shorty Howell Park, Ossoff said, ““This is the new South, this is the new Georgia rising.”

Perdue capped a daylong flyaround with a stop in Atlanta, where he gave a brief stump speech to a cheering crowd that ended with his slogan: “We’re going to win Georgia, save America.”

As is typical, he was preceded by his cousin, Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue, who implored Republicans to “vote early and often” — the latter being an encouragement for supporters to urge their friends and family to vote. Alec Poitevint closed the event, held in an airport hangar at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport by “deputizing” the audience to help the campaign.

Left unmentioned was any recognition of the Electoral College vote in Georgia and across the nation that affirmed Joe Biden’s victory. He and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler have refused to acknowledge Biden’s win, echoing other Republicans fearful of blowback from President Donald Trump and his allies pushing false claims of a “rigged” vote.

Instead, shortly after Biden crossed the threshold of 270 electoral votes, the two Republicans issued a joint statement opposing any effort to change the name of the Atlanta Braves, following the Cleveland franchise’s decision to rename the Indians baseball team.

“The Braves’ name honors our nation’s Native American heritage, which should not be erased — and under no circumstances should one of the most celebrated teams in sports cave to the demands of the cancel culture and the radical left,” the two said.

Senate Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock, a first-time candidate for political office, cast a vote for himself on Monday. Warnock voted blocks away from Ebenezer Baptist Church, the historic church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presided and where Warnock has been senior pastor for the last 13 years.

After casting his ballot, Warnock said he was thinking about his mother, who grew up picking cotton in the southeast Georgia town of Waycross, and can now pick her son to be a United States senator.

“Only in America is my story even possible,” Warnock said.

The campaign schedule for the dueling U.S. Senate candidates is about to get more hectic with the start of the three-week early voting period on Monday.

Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock launched separate bus tours over the weekend, while U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue readied for a round of new events to capitalize on the early-voting period ahead of the Jan. 5 runoffs for control of the U.S. Senate.

With the election coinciding with holiday season, both parties have put an extra emphasis on voting early. Warnock’s campaign punctuated that effort by releasing a 30-second ad Monday that urges Georgians to add “vote” to their busy to-do lists.

“That’s right, early voting starts December 14th, so make voting a part of your holiday plans,” Warnock says as he wrestles with unwieldy Christmas lights. “It’ll probably take you less time than it’ll take me to do this.”

Democrats built an edge in early-voting this year, dominating the GOP with mail-in votes. Republicans are trying to erase that advantage ahead of the runoffs, aggressively urging supporters to cast absentee ballots, though that will be no easy sell for many. Trump and other top GOP officials have denigrated the mail-in system for years, eroding the trust of the GOP base.

Both Democrats plan to campaign together on Monday in Atlanta and on Tuesday with President-elect Joe Biden, who is set to stump for the two candidates. The Republicans, meanwhile, have a busy campaign schedule that includes stops in metro Atlanta, rural Georgia and a Travis Tritt concert on Friday.

___

©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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