If the U.S. Senate race and the governor’s race end up in run-offs, Georgia will be in nation’s spotlight

By Maria Saporta

A group of well-respected political observers said Monday there was a strong possibility that both Georgia’s U.S. Senate race and governor’s race could end up in run-offs after the Nov. 4 election.

And if that happens, it could become a totally confusing situation for voters.

In the U.S. Senate race, Michelle Nunn is the Democrat, David Perdue is the Republican and Amanda Swafford is the Libertarian.

In the gubernatorial race, Gov. Nathan Deal, the Republican incumbent, is running against Democrat Jason Carter and Libertarian Andrew Hunt.

The Rotary Club of Atlanta held a political panel Monday with GPB’s Bill Nigut as moderator. When Nigut asked the panel to predict the outcome of the U.S. Senate race, here were the answers from the panel:

Jim Galloway, political writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said Nunn and Perdue would face each other in a run-off on Jan. 6.

Tharon Johnson, a strategist for the Democratic Party, predicted Nunn would win outright.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman, a Republican strategist, said the race would end up in a run-off.

And Eric Tanenblatt, a Republican strategist, predicted that Perdue would win with a slight margin.

Now if Georgia’s U.S. Senate race ends up in a run-off and control of the Senate is on the bubble after the Nov. 4 election, Georgia could end up being the most closely watched state in the nation until the Jan. 6 run-off.

Galloway said such a run-off would be a lousy outcome because it would certainly ruin his Christmas vacation.

The four panelists were asked after the program about their predictions of who would win the gubernatorial election on Nov. 4.

Johnson said Jason Carter. Galloway said there would be a run-off. Tanenblatt agreed that there would be a run-off. And Cushman said Gov. Deal was going to win.

Now here is where it gets bizarre. If the governor’s race goes into a run-off, voters will go back to the polls to vote on that election three weeks later – on Dec. 2.

So if both the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races end up in run-offs, Georgia should hold onto to its political hats and pocketbooks. It could prove to be one wild November and December with voters being asked to return to the polls for two different run-off elections.

According to the panelists, several variables will factor into who will be victorious on Nov. 4.

“Who wins will be who gets women to vote for them,” Johnson said.

Several ads by Nunn, Carter and Deal seem to be targeting women voters.

Deal received a boost on Monday when his former nemesis, Karen Handel, endorsed him for re-election. Cushman mentioned that First Lady Sandra Deal has traveled to every county in Georgia, and she has become “a huge asset” for the governor’s campaign.

Meanwhile, Carter has been running ads with women talking about how the middle-class is getting squeezed and how their communities are having to cope with cuts to education.

Even Tanenblatt acknowledged that Carter’s ad was a good one, but he said the Deal campaign is about to flood the market with his ads.

Johnson said another variable is early voting. “If Democrats are going to dominate the race, they have to dominate early voting,” he said.

Because both races are considered to be close, Cushman said the debates “are going to be huge” this year.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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