United States Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) refused to respond directly to questions from reporters regarding a proposed move planned by some Republicans in Congress to challenge the certification of the results of the Electoral College next month , which President-elect Joe Biden officially won earlier this week.
Loeffler is currently campaigning in a runoff election, set to take place on January 5, against Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock. A second runoff race for the other U.S. Senate seat in Georgia features Republican Sen. David Perdue squaring off against Democrat Jon Ossoff.
The outcomes of both races are on the minds of many Americans across the nation, as partisan control of the Senate rests on whether the Democratic candidates can win both runoffs or not. If Warnock and Ossoff both win, then Democrats will control the Senate; if one or both of the Republican incumbents win their respective runoff races, Republicans will retain control.
The proposal to challenge the presidential election results, led by Rep. Mo Brooks (a Republican congressman from Georgia’s neighboring state of Alabama), seeks to alter the outcome of the Electoral College in order to give President Donald Trump a second term in office. Brooks and others justify the move by citing false and discredited claims of election fraud in last month’s presidential race.
Although Congress has the power to change electors’ preferences while certifying the Electoral College vote, the plan has no chance of going anywhere — to be successful, it requires both houses separately to vote in support of the challenge when they convene for the certification on January 6. Even if Republicans were somehow able to muster the support of their own colleagues in the Senate, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives would assuredly vote it down.
Loeffler, when asked by reporters what her views were on Brooks’s plan, refused to give a straight answer.
“We’ve got a Senate race to run here in Georgia. We’ve got to win — the future of the country is on the line,” Loeffler said in her response.
Pressed to give an answer on when she might come to a position on the controversial idea, Loeffler again deferred a direct response, claiming she was unfamiliar with the plan.
“I haven’t looked at it,” the senator said. “January 6 is a long way out, and there’s a lot to play out between now and then.”
While Loeffler’s comments may raise some eyebrows, Perdue is free, somewhat, from having to provide a similar answer, as his term in office expires on January 3 and will not be seated in the Senate (should he win reelection) until Georgia certifies the results of the runoff races — something that likely won’t happen until several days after the Electoral College certification takes place.
Both Republican senators, however, are currently facing a tough balancing act when it comes to expressing their views on Trump’s continued false claims of election fraud. Agreeing with the thoroughly debunked idea that fraud took place may discourage voters from trusting the election process altogether, resulting in GOP-leaning residents of the state not turning out to vote in the runoffs next month. On other hand, backing the results of last month’s election would alienate Trump’s base of supporters, which could also depress voter turnout for the Republican candidates.
The latter fear seems to be more worrisome for both Loeffler and Perdue, as both signaled their support for a controversial lawsuit this month from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which sought to invalidate the certification of presidential election results in four states, including Georgia, to allow Republican-run legislatures to pick new electors for the Electoral College. The lawsuit, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear earlier this month, was based on the same unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that the president and his allies have promulgated since he lost the race to Biden last month.
Polls on both runoff elections show a very tight race at the moment. An Insider Advantage/Fox 5 Atlanta poll published on December 14 shows that Perdue is leading Ossoff by a slim margin of 1.2 percentage points; Loeffler is ahead of Warnock by the same spread. However, that poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent, which means both races at the moment are statistical ties.