VP Mike Pence comes to Georgia ahead of Senate runoffs

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Sen. David Perdue speaks during a campaign rally on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Cumming, Ga. Perdue and Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff are in a runoff election for the Senate seat in Georgia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

CANTON, Ga. — Vice President Mike Pence is campaigning Friday in Georgia as the state’s two Republican senators try to beat back Democratic challenges in runoff races on Jan. 5 that will determine who controls the U.S. Senate.

Pence will appear with Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on the outskirts of metro Atlanta’s sprawling footprint. The trip highlights a critical juncture of the campaign.  

As Pence travels to Georgia, a partial recount looms in Wisconsin.  Also Friday, the president has called Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders to a White House meeting.

Pence is most likely Friday to focus on securing the Republican Senate majority by helping Perdue and Loeffler defeat Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Republicans have already won 50 Senate seats for the new Congress, and need one more for control. A Democratic sweep of the Georgia runoffs would yield a 50-50 Senate.

Perdue led Ossoff in the general election but narrowly missed the majority that Georgia law requires to win statewide elections. Warnock and Loeffler were the top finishers in an all-party special election to fill the final two years of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the post after Isakson announced his retirement last year.

Pence will address separate rallies in Canton and Gainesville, north and northwest of Atlanta. The exurban venues underscore Republican math in Georgia: both cities are in heavily Republicans counties that are experiencing considerable population growth on the heels of similar booms in suburban counties closer to the metro core.

Those close-in suburban counties have in recent elections flipped to Democrats, who have also seen their vote totals climb even in the exurbs. Republicans must maximize their remaining advantages in the exurban ring around metro Atlanta in the same way that Democrats must wring every vote possible out of the city of Atlanta and its closest suburbs.