Successful political leaders and military commanders understand the value of focus when a strategic goal is at stake. As U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell put it, “focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror.” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who led his country through the dark days of World War II, said with his customary wry humor, “you will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
In Georgia over the past two months, there have been many barking dogs.
The Georgia barkers have piped up on both sides of the political aisle, pulling at Republicans David Perdue and Kelley Loeffler as they race toward their destination – reelection to the United States Senate in the double runoff.
If the Republican incumbents lose on Tuesday, it will be in large measure the result of the GOP having spent too much time and energy throwing stones at barking dogs along the way.
It was in fact quite clear from the outset that neither of these two GOP incumbents had secured a majority on November 3 as required by Georgia law. But, unlike the controversies surrounding vote counting for the presidential contest, which have continued to this day, the Senate runoff ball game is very different both in degree and resolution. The fact that the two elections – presidential and senatorial – have in many respects been lumped together, has spawned unnecessary and dangerous confusion in the lead up to the actual runoff election.
The still-hotly contested presidential vote is subject to a number of arcane but constitutionally permitted procedural challenges available to state legislators or by members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Actual occupancy of the two Senate seats, however, turns on one question – which of the two candidates in each race received the most votes. Compared to the procedural tools available to Republicans still hopeful of overturning the November election, the senatorial contests are far simpler and easier to handicap and resolve.
Constitutionally, the U.S. House and the Senate have the final say regarding who shall be seated in their respective chamber. The 117th Congress convened on Sunday with 98 Senators, and with 50 of those being Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell was able to retain his powerful post as Majority Leader. This means that Senate Republicans will decide who to seat after the runoff results in Georgia are certified.
If Democrat Raphael Warnock, the far-left pastor challenging Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff, his equally radical colleague opposing Perdue, win by clear margins, it is likely they will be seated, but almost certainly not before January 6, which is when both houses of Congress convene to affirm – or not – the electoral votes for president and vice president.
If, on the other hand, Perdue and Loeffler emerge victorious (or just one of the two), a Republican Senate majority will be secured for at least two years (after what likely will be interminable legal challenges by Democrats).
The tone for the Republican campaign in the first weeks following November’s balloting was set largely by the Trump campaign. and it centered on efforts to overturn the clearly flawed processes by which mail-in ballots were verified and counted in a handful of states including Georgia.
This focus became so intense that some Trump supporters publicly urged Republicans not to even vote on January 5 because the just-concluded balloting was so flawed. Thankfully, in recent days more rational messaging has prevailed, including by the president (even though he continues to insult Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler to her Senate seat in December 2019).
The stark reality is that Georgia Republican voters absolutely must not only hear, but act on the vitally important and wholly accurate message that GOP Senate runoff wins are absolutely essential if we are to preserve any degree of conservatism in the face of the liberal onslaught sought to be emplaced by a Pelosi-run House, a Chuck Schumer-led Senate, and a Biden-Harris administration. Being drawn off-target by barking dogs from either side of the aisle has created the very real risk of not even reaching that all-important goal.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s.