President Donald Trump famously lost Georgia and took two U.S. senators down with him.
Despite all of Trump’s protestations and urgings, the presidential vote count — conducted three times — in the South’s bellwether state never changed.
The president wouldn’t accept that result, so he made an hour-long phone call on Jan. 2 to Georgia’s secretary of state, asking him to “find” him almost 12,000 more votes. That recorded call will go down in political annals as perhaps the dumbest and most costly blunder of, well, forever.
It not only failed to sway Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to break the law, it likely helped Senate Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lose their Senate seats in Tuesday’s runoff elections.
Loeffler had lost the seat that she had never really won to Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock. And one-term senator Perdue lost to Democrat John Ossoff.
Trump had argued since the general election on Nov. 3 that victory had been stolen from him, especially in Georgia, where Joe Biden won the state by those 12,000 votes.
He constantly told his Georgia supporters that they should not participate in the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs. Trump even posted billboards on interstate highways surrounding Atlanta saying the elections weren’t fairly conducted. Atlantans, who normally were too busy to notice, noticed this time.
He held one of his patented rallies in a north central Georgia city a day before the runoffs that he mostly used to support himself and his wild claims — not Loeffler and Perdue, who needed every possible vote to hang onto their Senate berths. Voters got weary.
The word after the runoffs was that some confused Republicans had listened to him and skipped going to the polls.
All of this in the state where I reside part-time has been stunning, to say the least.
Georgia has been blood-red Republican ever since its people helped elect fellow citizen Jimmy Carter in 1976. In every election afterward, Georgia had voted Republican. But as more people moved to the state in the booming 1980s and beyond, things began to slowly change, particularly in metropolitan Atlanta.
Then, when a young Black lawyer named Stacey Abrams took on Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 governor’s election and barely lost, she didn’t take her setback sitting down. Instead, she mobilized more Democratic voters statewide with an eye on the 2020 elections. Her tireless grassroots efforts paid off as Democrat Joe Biden turned back Trump in a state the president never believed he’d lose (and still doesn’t).
Both Loeffler, who went to Washington only after former Sen. Johnny Isaakson retired in 2019 and Kemp appointed her to fill the seat in the interim; and Perdue, a businessman who directed the meteoric rise of Dollar General Stores, led the voting in their respective races on Nov. 3. But they couldn’t hold on in the runoff as Warnock and Ossoff took a majority of the votes, riding an epic TV advertising wave.
My home of Clay County — one of the smallest and poorest of Georgia’s 159 counties — helped shove Warnock and Ossoff over the finish line, giving them solid winning margins.
Most other rural counties in Georgia stuck with the Republicans, but the dynamo of Metro Atlanta proved insurmountable as the Democrats swept that sprawling area.
Questions are certain to arise as to whether Ms. Abrams can transfer her magic to Democrats in other southern states. Can she help them turn purple, then blue? Future elections will be telling.
Mac Gordon splits time between Mississippi and Georgia. He is a retired reporter. He can be reached at macmarygordon @gmail.com.