If Democrats want to win in Georgia and seize the Senate, they need to go on the attack
- Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are running for two Senate seats and control of the Senate hangs in the balance.
- Down ballot Democrats struggled on Election Day because they went on the defensive. To win in Georgia and take back the Senate, Democrats need to go on the offensive and attack the GOP.
- A great line of attack for Democrats in Georgia would be to pin the Republican candidates — Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — to the GOP's biggest loser: Donald Trump.
- Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Despite the hopes for a "Blue Wave," Republicans surprised Democrats and many election analysts in November by holding onto 50 seats in the US Senate — just one seat away from retaining their majority. As usual, Democrats underestimated the Republican attack machine and the power of their false claims about Democratic socialism and defunding the police.
But despite the strong GOP showing, there are two final Senate seats still up for grabs. The good people of Georgia have the chance to prevent Sen. Mitch McConnell from remaining majority leader and the grim reaper of progress.
In the two runoffs that will decide control of the Senate, the Democratic candidates face historically long odds. Both contests are tight, and both Democratic candidates began their races as the underdog. The stakes couldn't be higher, and Democrats need to leave it all on the field.
The GOP has overperformed by keeping the Democrats on defense. In order to pull off their own Senate surprise, Democrats must flip the field and go on offense.
Tie 'em to Trump
In November, the Georgia electorate joined a chorus of battleground victories in rejecting Trumpism. The statewide win for President-elect Joe Biden shows a path forward for Democrats. They should put the GOP's biggest loser back on the ballot in the Peach State in order to secure a win in January.
Even after President Donald Trump's loss, Senate Republicans have shown that there is no daylight between themselves and the outgoing commander. Their latest hits include shrugging their shoulders when the president fired officials who defied him and hiding when he alleged voter fraud with no substantive evidence.
In recent weeks, GOP senators have reached alarming levels of brazenness. Their bullying of Georgia election officials failed to strip power from Georgia voters but succeeded in showing the GOP's disregard for law and the democratic process.
Equally alarming has been Senate Republicans' failure to denounce violent threats against election officials – and the dangerous rhetoric from the president and his team that incited these threats. Their tacit approval of violence has put the safety of Georgians – including many Republicans – at risk.
Even Attorney General Bill Barr and the US Supreme Court have stood up to Trump on his election charade, but the Senate GOP is a profile in cowardice, not courage.
A vote against dysfunction
For their parts, Georgia's GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have made no moves to jump off the Trump train. In fact, they've become first class passengers. The pair have been loyal battleground soldiers in Trump's futile election fight.
They have attacked honorable Georgia Republicans doing their jobs – or stood silently while the President came after GOP allies. They sided with a lawsuit against their state that the Republican Attorney General had strongly condemned. They fan the flames of chaos as tensions and threats increase in their state.
As Loeffler and Perdue continue to stand with the President and refuse to acknowledge his defeat, it's clear who's really on the ballot in these runoffs.
They have tied themselves inextricably to Trump and have made it clear that a vote for them is a vote for all things Trump: his failure on the pandemic, his tanking of the economy, and his all-out assault on the will of Georgia's electorate.
Votes for Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are votes for progress and against the dysfunction in Washington that McConnell and company will surely bring. They also will be votes against the lame duck who is departing January 20.
The alternative is gridlock and partisanship that will benefit no one other than our nation's enemies. Democrats should label Senate Republicans as the Trump puppets they are and drive home that unless they are defanged, they will smear President-elect Joe Biden's term with a bright orange stain.
It's time for Democrats to make the election – and the country – about the collective GOP failure of the past four years. Everything the national majority voted for in November depends on it.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).
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