Double Trouble in Georgia

Both Senate seats are on the ballot in November, with big environmental stakes.

Georgia has two Senate contests due to a fluke of timing — one a regular election, the other a special election.  The regular election pits David Perdue (R) against Jonathan Ossoff (D). The special election pits Kelley Loeffler (R) against an open field, where her principal Democratic opponent is probably Rev. Raphael Warnock, the African-American pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King was once pastor. The Republican candidates are favored in both races, but they aren’t necessarily out of reach for the Democrats.

The Regular Election: Perdue versus Ossoff.

David Perdue.

Perdue has a 3% lifetime score from the LCV, fairly standard for a conservative Republican. His Senate website doesn’t have an Issues tab, but it does have one for “Donuts with David.” Which admittedly does sound like more fun.

Jonathan Ossoff.

Ossoff’s campaign website says, “The scientific consensus is unambiguous: if pollution from fossil fuel combustion is not controlled, the consequences will be dire.” He pledges to “suppport a historic infrastructure plan that includes massive investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, and environmental protection,” as well as pushing for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Agreement and for EPA to reverse Trump’s rollbacks. Ossoff is endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters.

The Special Election: Loeffler versus the Field

Kelley Loeffler.

One of Loeffler’s problems is that the Republican vote is likely to be split. Doug Collins, a GOP member of the House, is also running. Collins has a lifetime LCV score of 3%, making him a standard-model anti-environmental Republican House member. It’s possible that only the two Republicans will advance to the runoff. But it’s also possible that the Democratic challenger Warnock will actually finish #1 in the primary.

Raphael Warnock. Warnock’s website is pretty barebones. He pledges to “focus on fighting for quality, affordable health care, for the dignity of working people who are paid too little as our government works more for Wall Street, and to make sure every voice is heard.” He has a history of bringing environmental issues into his work as a pastor. He told LCV, “Too often, fossil fuel lobbyists and politicians have taken advantage of the revolving door between corporate boardrooms and political backrooms so much that we cannot tell the difference between the two.”

It seems very unlikely that any candidate can win a majority on Nov. 3, which means that top two will get into a runoff. The crucial question at this point is whether Democrats can unite around Warnock or some other candidate, which should get them into runoff.  Otherwise, the runoff will be between two Republicans, Loeffler and Collins.

The Perdue-Ossoff face off is considered closer than the special election right now.  The outcome could determine control of the Senate.  That, in turn, will profoundly shape the next Administration, whether led by Trump or Biden.  There will be clear implications for environmental law, given the starkly different views of the candidates.


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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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