With the election season that just won’t seem to ever end finally near a close, all eyes have been on Georgia since November and that has made for an interesting couple of months for local political parties.
Floyd County’s preliminary totals for the U.S. Senate runoffs came in around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday. They showed Republicans David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler leading their Democratic opponents by a large margin.
Across the state, however, the totals were too close to call in both races by late Tuesday.
Perdue had 24,732 votes to Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff’s 10,455 and Loeffler led Warnock 24,587 to 10,611 in Floyd County. Those numbers don’t include overseas military, provisional or absentee ballots collected on Tuesday. Those ballots, representing a fairly low number, will be finalized on Wednesday.
The day ran smoothly for the most part, with the exception of a few technology issues primarily early in the day. A long line was reported at the Shannon precinct as a result of a check-in computer not working. The issue was resolved by 7:30 a.m.
The two runoffs continued an already contentious election season from 2020 into 2021.
The announcement of the appointment of Loeffler by Gov. Brian Kemp almost immediately sparked a year of campaigning by various hopefuls after she replaced longtime Sen. Johnny Isakson a year ago this week. Loeffler survived a nasty bipartisan primary on Nov. 3 and was forced into a runoff by Warnock.
Meanwhile, Perdue, who was elected to a Senate seat in 2014, was also forced into a runoff by Ossoff. His six-year term ended Jan. 3 and the seat is vacant until Georgia’s election results are certified and the winner is sworn in.
In a Senate with 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats, a pair of seats in question in one election makes for a perfect storm for local and state parties.
“The good thing about the runoff is the level of engagement and generosity in action and spirit from our many volunteers and donors,” said Ruth Demeter, Floyd County Democratic Party chair.
Her Republican counterpart separately shared the same sentiment.
“We had a lot of people who haven’t necessarily been involved with the local party but who have come out to help and to volunteer,” FCGOP Chair Luke Martin said. “We’ve grown our membership and met a lot of wonderful people.”
The contests also drew big name politicians to Northwest Georgia — including President Donald Trump, Martin said.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and interest was high around the nation. Not only are both of Georgia’s Senate seats up for grabs, the election will determine the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate. That has put an extra strain on local party officers.
“We will be glad to have a few months of rest before tackling municipal elections this year,” said Demeter.
Both Democrats and Republicans have been trying to tackle the age old problem of convincing voters to turn back out for a runoff, while finding ways to counter tactics of the opposing campaigns.
“The challenging thing is dealing with the irreverent, irrelevant and possibly illegal tactics employed by some Republican leaders,” Demeter said.
Fielding voting machine concerns from likely voters and convincing Republicans to get to the polls has been the most time consuming focus of the local GOP.
“I’m constantly answering questions about Dominion voting machines,” Martin said. “People saying you shouldn’t vote. That’s been a challenge. We can have fair elections in Georgia, but we need observation.”