November 14, 2020 | 8:52pm
A poll worker helps a voter on Election Day in Atlanta.
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Pity the people of Georgia: Control of the US Senate next year comes down to two Jan. 5 runoff elections there — so the state is sure to be inundated with ads and “ground game” workers funded by donations from across the nation: Close to half a billion bucks worth of noise in less than two months.
Republicans already have 50 seats to Democrats’ 48 (including two independents), but Kamala Harris as vice president gets to cast the deciding vote for control if her party can somehow nab both.
One race pits Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), appointed last year after Sen. Johnny Isakson quit, against the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), the pastor of Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. He only drew 26 percent of votes in the regular election, but “insurgent Republican” Rep. Doug Collins pulled 20 percent, leaving Loeffler with just 33 percent.
Georgia law — originally passed in the ’60s to ensure the dominance of White Democrats — requires a runoff if no candidate crosses the 50 percent line. And Sen. David Perdue (R) fell just short, with 49.7 percent to 48 percent for Jon Ossoff (D) and 2.3 percent for the Libertarian, Shane Hazel. (Perdue has a slight chance of winning outright, thanks to the state’s recount.)
Ossoff has never held elective office, but he sure can fundraise: He set a record for cash brought in for a House race back 2017, more than $23 million, and his current bid is expected to set the record for a Senate race. Indeed, he and Warnock held a joint Silicon Valley fundraiser on Monday; they’ll hit up Wall Street, too.
And never mind that Warnock, with a record of radical comments (praise for Cuba and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright) seems a longshot: Democratic donors like Mike Bloomberg have shown themselves willing to burn billions this year.
Since 1992, Republicans have carried every statewide Georgia runoff, as Democratic turnout tends to drop more than GOP. But Democrats aren’t delusional to think they have a shot: Mail-in balloting could change that; it likely helped Joe Biden carry the state already.
On the other hand, Georgia voters presumably bought Biden’s vow to be a “moderate”; letting Republicans keep the Senate would be a smart way to ensure he keeps that promise. Making New York’s own Chuck Schumer the majority leader would open the door to a far more progressive agenda.
Anyway, it’ll be great entertainment for many outsiders — no matter how much Peach State citizens have to suffer.