GOP officials fear Republicans will not turn out to vote in the runoff elections for Georgia's two Senate seats.
Georgia Republicans are afraid Donald Trump's false claims about election fraud in their state and his harsh criticisms of state officials are damaging the reputation of the state's Republican Party.
They fear that Republican voters will be discouraged and not turn out to vote in the runoff elections for Georgia's two Senate seats on Jan. 5, 2021.
Neither Senate race in Georgia resulted in a winner last month. In the runoffs, incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue will face Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff, while his fellow incumbent Kelly Loeffler runs against Democrat Raphael Warnock.
According to the Associated Press, Trump plans to visit Georgia Saturday to campaign alongside Perdue and Loeffler.
But many Republicans are worried his inflammatory rhetoric could not only be a sticking point for Republicans but also cost them the Senate seats.
"The president has basically taken hostage this race," said Brendan Buck, previously a senior adviser to former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Prominent Georgia Republican donor Dan Eberhart said that Trump is "acting in bad sportsmanship and bad faith."
"Trump's comments are damaging the Republican brand," Eberhart told the AP.
Trump has not been subtle about what he wants done as he has attacked Republican elected officials in Georgia.
On Tuesday, Trump urged Gov. Brian Kemp to call off the runoff election — an odd request given that Trump plans to travel to Georgia to campaign for the Republican senators on Saturday.
"Do something, @BrianKempGA," Trump tweeted. "You allowed your state to be scammed. We must check signatures and count signed envelopes against ballots. Then call off election. It won't be needed. We will all WIN!"
"Why won't Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes. It will be a 'goldmine' of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state....," Trump tweeted Monday.
A spokesperson from Kemp's office responded to Trump, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that state law "prohibits the governor from interfering in elections" and that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger "has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order."
Raffensperger, also a Republican, has also been blasted by Trump for refusing to overturn the state election results.
Raffensperger, who has repeatedly stated he is a Trump supporter, last week complained that Trump "threw him under a bus."
"For those wondering ... my family voted for him, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him," Raffensperger wrote in an op-ed published in USA Today.
"Truth matters, especially in election administration," he said during a news conference on Monday, claiming: "There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation, and frankly, they're misleading the president as well, apparently."
Some Republicans fear Trump's appearance in Georgia could harm Loeffler's and Perdue's chances of winning the Jan. 5 runoffs.
"I had someone message me just last week saying: 'Nope, I'm done. Can't trust the election. Never voting again,'" former Republican state representative Buzz Brockway told the New York Times. "The president has a very dedicated group of supporters who don't really support the broader Republican Party — they support him."
Eric Johnson, Loeffler's campaign adviser and a former Georgia state Senate leader, agreed that Trump may be hurting Perdue's and Loeffler's cause.
"You can't say the system is rigged but elect these two senators," he told the Times. "At some point he either drops it or he says I want everybody to vote and get their friends to vote so that the margins are so large that they can't steal it."
Although Perdue and Loeffler called on Raffensperger to resign earlier in November, alleging widespread voter fraud, Trump's team has criticized the senators for not doing enough to push through Trump's efforts at overturning the election results.
Prominent Trump supporter Lin Wood recently told his more than 630,000 Twitter followers that Loeffler and Perdue needed to step up their support for Trump.
"Let’s speak truth about @SenLoeffler& @sendavidperdue. Why are they doing little or nothing to support efforts by GA citizens to address unlawful election & need for @BrianKempGA to order special session of legislature? If not fixed, I will NOT vote in GA runoff. Will you?" Wood tweeted.
And Georgia Republicans are taking note: During a recent campaign speech in Griffin, Georgia, Perdue was heckled for his alleged failure to help Trump.
"What are you doing to help Donald Trump and this fraud case?" the heckler shouted, according to a Washington Post report. "What are you doing to stop what's been going on here and this election fraud?"
Trump's remarks are fueling the rhetoric of the many Republicans who are already calling for a boycott of the runoff election.
Winning the Jan. 5 runoff is Democrats' last clear path to a Senate majority in 2021. If Warnock and Ossoff both win their races, the Senate will be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote in her role as president of the upper chamber.
On Monday night, Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, appeared on CNN and slammed Trump's claims of voter fraud in Georgia, warning him that he could be "alienating voters" with his rhetoric.
"It troubles me that some folks are willing, just for the sole intent of flipping an election, of spreading misinformation," said Duncan. "I think we're better than this. My hope is that we move past this here in Georgia and as a country."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.