California residents flock to Georgia to help Democrats in Senate run-offs

Dreaming of securing Democratic control of the Senate, residents of the Golden State are volunteering to temporarily move to the Peach State to help get out the vote for Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock in their Jan. 5 run-off elections against GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

If the Democrats capture both seats, the Senate would have 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting votes to break ties.

Democrats will also control the White House and the House come January when President-elect Biden succeeds President Trump.

“I can’t just sit home and raise money,” San Francisco resident Joseph Killian, 38, a project manager for a tech company, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Killian, and his friends donated $50,000 to half a dozen Democratic Senate candidates — but most of them lost.

He wants to go to Georgia to knock on doors or do whatever is necessary to aid the Democrats.

“When you look at some of those races where (we donated and) we didn’t win, this is our chance to hopefully go there and fix that. We want to be there and help,” Killian said.

Other California Democrats have contacted Democratic Party activists about the logistics of traveling to Georgia.

“My phone has been blowing up every 20 minutes,” Manny Yekutiel, owner of Manny’s, a civic engagement space in San Francisco’s Mission District, told the Chronicle.

Yekutiel had volunteered in Georgia and plans to return for the run-off elections, which are required when the top candidate in races fails to clear 50 percent of the vote.

“People are asking me, ‘When do I move to Georgia? Where can I stay? Should I get a block of hotel rooms?’”

They want to work with a coalition of grassroots organizations founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Her groups registered more than 800,000 Georgians to vote this year.

One prominent New Yorker, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, also vowed to move to Georgia to help the Democratic candidates and the out-of-state interest in the race is garnering national attention from Fox News and other media outlets

Biden narrowly carried Georgia over Trump, the first time a Democrat carried the southern state since 1992. A recount is pending.

Some analysts believe Republicans have an edge because it will be more difficult for Democrats to pull out their voters in an election where Trump is not on the ballot.

Also, the presence of outsiders — particularly liberal Californians — could provoke a voter backlash to aid the Republicans.

About 80 percent of the money raised in the fall campaigns for Warnock and Ossoff came from outside Georgia.

Analysts anticipate $150 million to $200 million will flood the state for the run-offs most of it from outside the state..

GOP Sens. Perdue and Loeffler have sought to label their opponents as tied to the radical left. Rev. Warnock’s fiery sermons have also come under the microscope.

Ossoff lost a special congressional race in Georgia in 2017 when his GOP opponent tied him to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and called him “San Francisco’s congressman.”

“I’ll point to the last time that Jon Ossoff was running for office and received a lot of organizing help from California — it didn’t end well for him,” Jesse Hunt, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Chronicle.

“These progressive activists who want to come to Georgia, their values are very different from the people in Georgia who will be voting.”

Safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic will make travel more difficult.

California urges residents to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from interstate trips to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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