Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff speaks during a debate for U.S. Senate on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Atlanta. Sen. David Perdue declined to attend the debate. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, Pool)

GOP voters ready for Georgia runoffs despite Trump’s claims

ATLANTA — Many Republican voters in Georgia are angry. They’re convinced that widespread voter fraud — claims that are baseless — cost President Donald Trump the election to Democrat Joe Biden.

But will those concerns put them on the sidelines for runoff elections Jan. 5 that will determine party control of the U.S. Senate? No way, said Trump supporter Lori Davis.

“Everyone that I’m around, we’re ready to vote now,” said the 57-year-old businesswoman, as she awaited the arrival of Vice-President Mike Pence at a rally for GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Augusta on Thursday.

Trump has relentlessly promoted false claims that the election was rigged against him and he has savaged Republican elected officials he perceives as standing in the way of his quest to subvert the results. Some Trump allies have gone as far as calling for voters to skip the Georgia runoffs altogether — alarming words for the GOP campaigns banking on a strong turnout.

But interviews with voters and party activists in the state suggest there’s little sign that Trump’s voters are planning to stay home in protest. Most Republican voters interviewed said they were prepared to put their skepticism aside to vote for Perdue and Loeffler in their races against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

“There are people who are discouraged about (Trump) losing Georgia or being behind. But I haven’t talked to people who’ve said, ‘Oh, the heck with this, it’s all rigged anyway,’” said Tim Phillips, president of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, which has done canvassing of GOP-leaning voters.

Phillips was among those who worried that the distrust could affect Republican enthusiasm. But he said his group’s weeks in the field, combined with a recent visit from Trump, have eased his worries.

Trump’s Dec. 5 campaign stop in Valdosta, Georgia, was his first since he lost the state to Biden by about 11,700 votes — a result that was confirmed by two recounts, including a hand tally of all ballots. But those recounts haven’t stopped the president from blasting Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Kemp has rebuffed Trump’s call for a special session of the legislature to subvert the election results, while Raffensperger has repeatedly said there is no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities in the November election.

Trump’s allies have continued to push false claims of fraud.

Sidney Powell, who was removed from Trump’s legal team last month, has teamed up with Georgia attorney Lin Wood, who is known for his representation of several high-profile clients, particularly in defamation cases. The lawyers have repeatedly encouraged Georgia Republicans not to vote in the runoff election and questioned whether Perdue and Loeffler have sufficiently backed Trump’s efforts.

“Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election?” Wood said during a recent rally in a suburb north of Atlanta.

Trump has asked his supporters to get out and vote. The “seats are the last line of defence to save America and protect all that we’ve accomplished,” he said at the recent Georgia event. During the rally, Trump weaved back and forth between pressing his own grievances about the election and encouraging the crowd to turn out for Perdue and Loeffler.

“You know a lot of people, friends of mine, say ‘Let’s not vote. We’re not going to vote because we’re angry about the presidential election,’” Trump told the crowd.

“But if you do that, the radical left wins,” he said.

Phillips said he believes that message is getting through to the conservative base much more so than any isolated calls for boycotts or even the president’s broadsides against Kemp and Raffensperger.

“These aren’t people taking their cues from CNN or conventional political media. They listen to the president directly. And they’re open to his message and our message of not letting (Democratic Senate leader) Chuck Schumer finish the job,” Phillips said.

Republicans are depending on voters such as Terry McCreary, a 65-year-old retiree in Cherokee County. McCreary calls himself a “conservative independent,” but he’s voted almost exclusively for Republicans since casting presidential ballots for Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

McCreary says he finds it “hard to believe” Biden won the election fair and square. McCreary cites several misleading and disproven theories that Trump and his allies have pushed in recent weeks.

“It just doesn’t feel right,” he said from his home in the Atlanta suburbs.

But none of that, McCreary said, will keep him from voting in the runoffs. “I’m concerned about the election on Jan. 5” being legitimate, he said. “But I always vote. Every time.”

Perdue and Loeffler have tried to placate Trump and his supporters by backing a lawsuit from Texas that sought to overturn Biden’s win but was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, and by calling for Raffensperger to resign, citing unspecified “mismanagement” in the election.

Nonetheless, they’ve faced pushback from hardcore Trump supporters. As the pair strained to speak at Trump’s rally in Valdosta, cries of “Fight for Trump” filled the crowd, largely drowning out the senators.

Jeanne Seaver, a Republican activist in Georgia who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, said she believes that Republican voters will still come out to support Perdue and Loeffler despite the anger on the ground.

“I think if Donald Trump says get out and vote for Kelly and David, then the Trump folks are loyal to Donald Trump and will get out and vote,” Seaver said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month. Rentals.ca… Continue reading

Rylee Trippel was last seen Friday. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing teen

Police are looking for a teen who was last seen in the… Continue reading

The Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60,000 in 2020. (Photo courtesy Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Facebook)
Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60K in 2020

The executive director of the Red Deer Outreach Centre says she is… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends decision to back, then oust, Sloan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he was once willing to… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault pauses as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19… Continue reading

A woman walks outside the Roberta Place Long Term Care home in Barrie, Ont. on Monday, January 18, 2021. The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in Canada has underscored the need for increased public funding for home care, advocates say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
COVID-19 deaths in long-term care reveal need for home supports: advocates

VANCOUVER — The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in… Continue reading

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, September 22, 2016. China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China

BEIJING — Canadian officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig,… Continue reading

Marc Gold (centre) stands with senators André Pratte (left) and Peter Harder before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Parliament Hill, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Senator urges study of vexing barriers to using secret information in court cases

OTTAWA — A Senate committee should examine the hurdles that make it… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg ticket holder wins Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — A ticket holder from Winnipeg won Friday night’s whopping $60… Continue reading

Most Read