The question of whether the United States Senate will have a working majority of pro-environment or pro-polluter senators has come down to two runoff elections on January 5 in Georgia.
One of these Senate runoffs is for a full six-year term, as incumbent Sen. David Perdue bids fights for a second term against Jon Ossoff. The other is a special election to determine who will fill the remaining two years of a term which began in 2016. Sen. Kelly Loeffler was appointed to that seat late last year to replace an incumbent who retired early for health reasons, and will face Raphael Warnock.
Warnock and Ossoff, who finished first and a close second in their respective initial races, have both been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund because of their commitments to renewable energy and climate action.
Further, Perdue has an especially foul environmental voting record during his first term in the Senate, grading a woeful 3% on LCV’s national environmental scorecard.
Loeffler is too new to her seat to have established much of an environmental record of her own. As a candidate, though, she is arguably best known for alleged insider trading, dumping millions of dollars’ worth of corporate stock and buying stock in other companies that have profited during the pandemic, after she took part in a closed-door intelligence briefing in January on the coronavirus and its risks.
The analytics site FiveThirtyEight noted Georgia has a history of voter turnout dropoff in during runoffs, but cautioned the circumstances may prove dramatically different this year. “Georgia has never seen a runoff like this one. Not only are two high-profile races on the ballot, but control of the entire Senate is at stake,” reads its analysis. “For the next eight weeks, Georgia will be the center of the political universe; expect both parties to spend tens of millions of dollars and dispatch big-name surrogates to get out the vote. That could minimize the drop-off in turnout, which in turn could minimize the drop-off in Democratic support. There’s also never been a Black candidate in a Senate runoff, either, which could help keep turnout high among a key part of the Democratic base.”
Both major political parties and a broad range of public and private interests are already spending millions and mobilizing thousands of volunteers to make the case to Georgia voters for their preferred candidates.