Amid attacks, focus on pandemic, healthcare, economic recovery key to Democratic victories in Senate runoffs

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Two Georgia Democrats made history this week. And the magnitude of Raphael Warnock’s and Jon Ossoff’s U.S. Senate apparent victories is just starting to be felt.

A lot of people, in Georgia and across the nation where control of the Senate shifted from Republican to Democratic, are wondering what happened Tuesday in the Peach State.

Two Democrats – Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff – became the first candidates from their party to win statewide in Georgia in 20 years.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who through his institute at Southern Cal helped fund some Georgia elections offices to expand voting opportunities, put it this way, drawing from some of his most popular lines in his movies.

“I think on Nov. 3, the American people said to the president, you are fired,” Schwarzenegger said. “Now the Georgian people said to the Republicans you are terminated. They say Hasta la Vista, baby to the party and the president.”

During the runoff, Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue took to the airwaves and the Republican campaigns took on an Apocalyptic tone.

Warnock and Ossoff stuck to three issues – the pandemic, healthcare and economic relief.

“So, when the attacks came, it was like water off a duck’s back,” Smyre said.

And the Republican campaign strategy just didn’t work.

“The only thing they were doing was throwing Hail Mary’s and Hail Mary’s don’t win elections,” Smyre said. “First downs win elections. And you got to get a first down before you get a touchdown.”

Smyre who has been in politics for nearly a half century and says Warnock’s ad campaign was the best he had ever seen.

“I have never seen a better run ad campaign,” Smyre said.

The Democratic ground game was simply better, said political scientist Scott Buchanan.

“The Republicans won the counties they should have and the Democrats won the counties they should have,” said Buchanan, a political science professor at Georgia College. “But the Democratic vote just outpaced the Republican vote, pure and simple.”

Warnock’s win was significant in many ways. The pastor of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church — Martin Luther King Jr.’s church — helped pull Ossoff to his victory.

“That is a change,” Buchanan said. “That is a radical change.”

For a couple of reasons.

“The very fact that we have Georgia, which like many Southern states has a long, sad history of racial discrimination, the fact that that a black candidate No. 1, won; and No. 2 is able to pull a white candidate across the finish line, so to speak, that’s historic any way you want to look at that one,” Buchanan said.

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