If conservatives do not find a way to counter liberal activist Stacey Abrams’ influence in Georgia, it won’t matter whom Republicans put forward — they will lose again in the 2022 midterm elections, said former Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Two months removed from her run-off loss to Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock, Ms. Loeffler is building the voter-registration group Greater Georgia to rival Ms. Abrams’ Fair Fight that helped Democrats flip two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia and take control of the upper chamber.
Georgia also voted Democratic in the presidential race for the first time since 1992, delivering a stinging defeat to former President Donald Trump. He blamed the loss on mail-in ballot fraud and other shenanigans at the polls, but those claims were never proven.
Ms. Loeffler said registering and turning out conservatives will win Georgia back for the GOP.
“Greater Georgia’s about the reality that if we don’t take steps to shore up the state’s ability to grow the conservative tent in the same way that Fair Fight has grown the liberal tent, it won’t matter who runs for office, the numbers will go against us,” Ms. Loeffler said in an interview with The Washington Times.
“We’re already seeing that Georgia’s at a deficit of roughly 8,000 voter registrations a month in terms of Democrat versus Republican registrations,” she said,
But whom Republicans pick to run against Mr. Warnock in 2022 does matter to Mr. Trump; the former president encouraged Herschel Walker, a former University of Georgia running back and Trump surrogate, to enter the fray.
“Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the legendary Herschel Walker ran for the United States Senate in Georgia?” said Mr. Trump in a statement last week. “He would be unstoppable, just like he was when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs, and in the NFL. He is also a GREAT person. Run Herschel, run!”
Ms. Loeffler has not yet decided whether she will pursue a rematch against Mr. Warnock. She said she was, and remains, a fan of Mr. Walker.
“Herschel is an important conservative voice and I was really humbled to have his support in my Senate race and he is a great Georgian and a great American, but Greater Georgia is candidate agnostic,” she said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, appointed Ms. Loeffler to the Senate in 2019 to fill the seat of Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down due to ill health. The governor’s choice of Ms. Loeffler defied Mr. Trump who wanted Rep. Doug Collins, a strong Trump ally, to get the job.
Mr. Trump campaigned for Ms. Loeffler in 2020.
For Ms. Loeffler, 2021 got off to a rough start. After losing the January run-off election and watching the Democratic victories in Georgia deliver the Senate into the hands of her political opponents, she sold her share of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, which led NBA star LeBron James to rib her on social media.
Ms. Loefller, however, focused on Republicans’ electoral problems in Georgia. She self-funded the voter registration startup while looking for more donors.
Ms. Abrams has a “monopoly” on voter registration in Georgia, she said, and vowed to fight back with voter registration drives, robust voter engagement and new communications strategy to get out the vote on Election Day.
“On the other side of the ballot, they benefited from infrastructure that had been built by Fair Fight, that had been built years in advance, that were funded through national efforts by collaboration with the Democrat Party,” Ms. Loeffler said. “Despite the strength of our effort, which was unprecedented in Georgia — a thousand-person organization, thousands of volunteers — we were still dwarfed by the size of the Democrat machine.”
Fair Fight, which was founded in 2018, raised more than $89 million in the 2020 cycle. Ms. Abrams’ group spent more than $11 million on ads and gave more than $4.8 million to the state and local Democratic Party affiliates, according to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Ms. Abrams began litigating against Georgia in 2018 after claiming Republican state officials stole the governor’s race from her by purging voter rolls and suppressing Black voter turnout.
Ms. Abrams’ complaints captured the attention of liberals nationwide and she is considering running for the governorship again in 2022, according to reports.
Fair Fight, which operates in Georgia and across the country, kept up the legal pressure in the Peach State through the 2020 elections.
When the two Georgia Senate races headed to a January run-off, Ms. Abrams’ group moved swiftly to get voters mail-in ballots, including those who “don’t have a GA State ID or Driver’s License,” according to Fair Fight’s website.
Georgia voters are required to show photo identification when voting in-person but are not required to show identification when voting absentee by mail, according to the Georgia secretary of state office.
A Georgia judge said this week he may unseal absentee ballots in Fulton County so a voter integrity group can investigate accusations of voting fraud.
In a statement Monday, Mr. Trump called for a strong investigation into “Fulton County, Georgia, and the Stacey Abrams political machine.” Ms. Loeffler said she welcomed efforts to review the ballots in Fulton County.
Ms. Loeffler’s focus is on the next election and ensuring that Republican voters have confidence that their vote will count. She said about 500,000 Georgians who voted in November did not vote in her January run-off race and she knows that Republicans need those votes to regain control at the federal and local level in Georgia.
Mr. Trump’s critics aligned with the Senate’s Republican leadership have criticized Mr. Trump’s election-fraud claims for suppressing GOP voter turnout from November to the run-off elections, but Ms. Loeffler’s group thinks there is an even larger voting pool with a propensity for conservative candidates.
Greater Georgia thinks approximately 2.5 million Georgians who are registered to vote have not done so in recent elections and that they tend to be conservative or center-right and are ripe for the taking.
“I’m not only a candidate and a former senator, but I spent decades in the private sector building businesses. I’m taking a very data-driven and results-focused approach to this,” Ms. Loeffler said. “We have to have results and we have to have them quickly, and we’re doing that based on making sure that there’s plenty of data to base our decisions on and then actions that will directly drive the results that we need to show progress on voter registration, to show efforts on engagement and to have better communications around our elections, including election-day turnouts.”
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