GOP Senators Say Georgia Runoff Is Reason They Refuse To Recognize Biden Victory


A handful of Republican senators on Tuesday revealed that the vast majority of the Senate GOP caucus has not acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect out of concern that doing so would damage their prospects in the upcoming Senate runoff elections in Georgia.

US President Donald Trump speaks with Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), Senator Kelly Loeffler … [+] (R-GA), and Senator David Perdue (R-GA) after arriving at Dobbins Air Reserve Base September 25, 2020, in Marietta, Georgia. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Key Facts

“We need his voters. And he has a tremendous following out there,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune told Politico, adding that while Trump is currently trying to “determine the outcome” of his own election, Senate Republicans “want him helping in Georgia” afterwards.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told Politico Trump has a “vested interest in making sure we keep the majority,” while Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said it would “be my hope” Trump campaigns in Georgia, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he hopes the president is “active” in the race.

Only four Republican senators – Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) – have publicly congratulated Biden, while at least 17 have publicly refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Trump is “100% within his rights” to mount legal efforts to challenge the results, a sentiment echoed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise.

Trump threatened non-participation in Georgia if Republican allies didn’t begin to rally behind his efforts to reject the results, which has included pushing unproven allegations of widespread fraud, CNN reported based on anonymous sources.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution also reported that Trump and his top allies “pressured” Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to call for the resignation of Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, in the wake of the president’s apparent loss there (Raffensperger has refused to step down.)

Chief Critic

“I think it’s ridiculous and I just can’t believe what these Republicans are doing,” former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who endorsed Biden, said during a CNN appearance on Tuesday. However, Kasich said the Georgia explanation doesn’t “hold water,” suggesting that the true motivation is a “fear” of Trump within the caucus.

Crucial Quote

“I think there are enough Republicans who have already spoken out… to be able to get things done,” Biden said on Tuesday, while admitting he is “not a pessimist.” Biden also dismissed Republicans’ refusal to recognize him as “not of much consequence” because the transition is already “well underway.”

Big Number

79%. That’s the share of Americans who believe Biden won the election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,393 U.S. adults conducted between Nov. 7 – when the election was called for Biden – and Nov. 10. Just 3% Trump won, while 13% said the election has not yet been decided. 72% say the loser of the election should concede.

What To Watch For

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally known for his bipartisanship, said Tuesday that Republican senators have privately told him to convey their congratulations to Biden, adding that he is urging those senators to “do the right thing and to help the president accept reality.” Coons predicted many will “begin to turn” in the coming week “as it is clear there is no possible pathway for the president to overturn these results.”

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