“No one in Georgia is interested in the QAnon business,” Lofler told reporters defiantly after attending the Humvee and Baseball Cap event, with Congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Green next to her. “This is something that fake news will continue to broadcast – and will ignore Antifa.”
Lefler, an appointed senator and one of the richest in Congress, is running on the right with GOP spokesman Doug Collins, an inter-party battle that has sparked deep fears among Republicans that it could split the vote and help Democrats sweep Georgia and take the majority in the Senate.
This is a scenario that Republican leaders have feared for months – and one they tried to avoid earlier this year. In private, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had advised his senior lieutenants and even President Donald Trump to ensure that the party would unite behind a single candidate and avoid a tumultuous internecine battle that could jeopardize a Senate seat, according to a number of GOP sources. in front of CNN.
But Collins, who is lobbying for the Senate appointment Governor Brian Kemp gave to Löfler, joined the race earlier this year amid fierce opposition from the National Republican Senate Committee. As Trump remains silent about his preferences in the race, the two candidates seek to equalize the other and show their loyalty to the president, moving further and further to the right in a country where more moderate voters in the suburbs of Atlanta will be pinch.
The competition is challenging unlike any other in the country. As these are special elections, there are no primary ones. So, in order to finally win the election in November, the candidate must exceed 50% of the vote; if not, the two best candidates face a runoff in January. As a candidate is unlikely to reach the 50 percent threshold, Collins and Löfler are vying vigorously for the runoff, attracting Republican voters and appealing to the Conservative base, which is part of the 6.9 million registered voters.
This created an opening for the leading Democratic candidate, Rev. Rafael Warnock, who is mostly unharmed in the daily slide between Collins and Löfler and was rewarded with a fundraiser on Friday led by former President Barack Obama.
Republicans worry that the fierce Collins-Löfler battle split the party during the campaign’s most critical moment and now threatens both Senate seats, a scenario some senior Republicans warned could happen months ago when Collins join the race.
They are all frustrated with some Collins Republicans and accuse him of putting his personal ambitions on the goal of retaining a Senate majority.
“In a difficult election cycle like this, you really need candidates to avoid making selfish decisions that further complicate your party’s ability to win,” said Josh Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff who still advises the GP leader. . “Obviously this did not happen in Georgia.”
How the two GOP candidates are courting the law
Georgia has not elected a democratic senator in 20 years. But Democrats are optimistic that they will compete in the state, fueled by the Republican race on the right, the growth of the Atlanta suburbs, and efforts to expand votes led by former Democratic Party leader Stacey Abrams.
Late last year, Kemp appointed Loefler to serve the rest of Georgia’s senator, Johnny Isaacson, after his resignation. Part of the draw for Loeffler, who is married to New York Stock Exchange CEO Jeff Sprecher, was that she could turn to the rapidly diversifying suburbs – especially women in the suburbs – and raise funds. (The couple has spent at least $ 25 million of their own money in the race so far.)
The governor threatened to veto the bill and it went nowhere.
But now Republican candidates are spending the last days of the Senate race as if running for freshman, trying to appeal to their party’s hardcore members, such as Green.
During Thursday’s event, a reporter asked Loefler if he accepted the approval of someone who spread “QAnon’s baseless theories” and “made inflammatory, xenophobic, contradictory remarks” before asking if he was worried about Green damaging the party’s brand in the country.
“Look, I don’t know anything about QAnon,” Löfler replied. “I know how the media distorts people’s words, they do it over and over, they even make things up.”
A Republican strategist from Georgia, who is not involved in any of the campaigns, said that the event for the approval of Löfler with Green was “nothing but” Hello, Maria.
“I think it’s devastating for her in the runoff,” said the GOP strategist, who asked for anonymity to candidly assess the race. “On the day after election day, if Kelly Löfler somehow pulls this out, an ad will appear within five minutes linking her to QAnon. And it won’t be good.”
Asked if he was concerned that Loeffler’s performance in front of conservative voters would exclude independents and potentially hurt the senator during the runoff, Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson told CNN that the GOP senator would be able to portray Warnock as out of the mainstream.
“Rafael Warnock is the most radical liberal and extreme candidate running for the Senate anywhere in the country – so we are extremely excited to face him during the run-off in January,” Lawson said.
On Capitol Hill, Löfler behaves low and rarely speaks to reporters, surrounded by an aide and often silent when asked a question. And on extremely rare occasions where she does respond to a reporter’s inquiry, she speaks Trump’s language.
In Georgia, however, her moves caused waves.
Following the police assassination of George Floyd, Lofler, the co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, was engaged in a battle with the league and his own players this summer, writing to WNBA commissioner Katie Engelbert in July that he “strongly” opposed the Black Lives Matter, “which she called” completely inconsistent with the values and goals of the WNBA and the dream of Atlanta, where we support tolerance and inclusion. ”
Players responded in kind, wearing black shirts that read, “Vote Warnock.”
Löfler may not have had to fight cultural wars if Collins did not decide to run for the Senate.
The Georgia congressman was the best Republican on the House House Justice Committee and led Trump’s defense during the president’s impeachment proceedings last year, something he has repeatedly pointed out in the wake of the campaign.
On Thursday, Collins announced a “Trump Defender tour” with some of the president’s most loyal allies, including representatives of Florida’s Matt Gaetz and Arizona’s Andy Biggs and former Trump advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, who were former players. Robert Mueller ‘s Investigation of Russia.
Collins campaign spokesman Dan McLaughlin said Collins would drive his “family suburb chased by volunteers in a 15-passenger van moving on liberal tears.”
McLagan said Green was a “nice endorsement for Kelly,” but said the senator “looked as comfortable as a deer at a hunters’ convention” at the news conference.
“Georgians know that Doug is the real conservative and Kelly is a fake,” he said.
The courtship of the right is the Democrats’ optimism about the race.
Warnock, a senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which raised nearly $ 13 million in the last quarter, has already attacked the senator for accepting Green’s approval.
“Instead of trading divisions and proudly standing next to those who broadcast dangerous rhetoric like Marjorie Taylor Green, we are focused on being a voice for all Georgians,” Warnock said.
While Warnock is the biggest favorite to reach the runoff, some Democrats fear that Matt Lieberman, a Democratic candidate and the son of former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who polled in single digits, will steal enough support to prevented Warnock from winning in November outright.
In any case, Democratic leaders believe that the fight between the GOP against the GOP, combined with the aggressive play of former Vice President Joe Biden in the state, will strengthen their candidates.
“If Joe Biden brings Georgia, which would be a leading event in American politics, then those on the other side of the equation will have a hard time,” said Dick Durbin, a Illinois Democrat.