President-elect Joe Biden praised Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in a campaign event in Atlanta on Tuesday, just weeks ahead of theon January 5. This was the first time Mr. Biden has appeared in person with the two candidates since his election.
In a speech to supporters, Mr. Biden said that it was critical for Ossoff and Warnock to be elected so that he could pursue his legislative agenda.
“I need two senators who will get something done, not two senators who will get in the way,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden narrowly won the state of Georgia, boosting Democratic hopes that Ossoff and Warnock may be able to win these two seats, which will determine which party controls the Senate next year. If the two Democrats win both seats, the party will have a razor thin 50-50 majority in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting any tie-breaking vote.
Ossoff is facing off against Senator David Perdue, who was up for reelection this year. Under Georgia state law, any election where neither candidate receives above 50% of the vote must advance to a runoff. Perdue narrowly defeated Ossoff on Election Day, but was unable to garner more than 50% of the vote.
Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat last year, was challenged by 20 other candidates in a special election in November, including Warnock. Loeffler and Warnock were the top two vote-getting candidates, and so their race also advanced to a runoff.
In his speech, Mr. Biden slammed Loeffler and Ossoff for supporting a lawsuit brought by Texas seeking to invalidate the election results in four states, including Georgia. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
“I’ll try to be generous here, in the spirit of the season. Maybe your senators were just confused. Maybe they think they represent Texas,” Mr. Biden said.
President Trump, who has refused to concede the election, has repeatedly challenged Mr. Biden’s victory in Georgia. The president-elect was the first Democrat to win Georgia in nearly 30 years. Mr. Biden’s election was affirmed by two recounts, and the state’s electorson Monday.
“Thank you for standing strong to make sure your voices were heard, to make sure your votes were counted, and counted, and counted again. I’m starting to feel like I won Georgia three times!” Mr. Biden said in his speech to supporters.
Despite Mr. Biden’s unexpected victory, Democrats in the state are concerned that low turnout for a special election on January 5 could doom Ossoff and Warnock’s chances. Early voting began in the state on Monday.
“This election is not a continuation of what happened in November. It’s a complete reset. It’ll have a different character. It’ll have lower turnout, most likely,” Cobb County Democratic Party chairwoman Jacquelyn Bettadapur told CBSN “Red & Blue” anchor Elaine Quijano.
However, Mr. Biden said that he expected voters to prove the country wrong and turn out in large numbers on January 5.
“I think Georgia is going to shock the nation with the number of people on January 5,” Mr. Biden said.