The achievements of former Texas GOP chair Jim Dickey and current Georgia Democratic political superstar Stacey Abrams offer an extremely important lesson to all political party activists: The best way to win an election is to do the heavy lifting of GOTV: Getting Out the Vote. Unless President Trump, his attorneys, and Georgia’s two Republican senators learn this lesson ASAP, the GOP will lose the Georgia Senate elections and control of the Senate for at least the next two years.
I’ve already written of James Dickey’s role in halting, at least temporarily, the purpling of the Lone Star State. As GOP chair he launched major drives to recruit quality candidates to seek office in Texas and find and register voters to actually support their election bids. No doubt his efforts helped carry the state for President Trump, secure GOP victories in nine statewide races (including Senator John Cornyn’s successful re-election bid), and prevent further flipping of state and congressional legislative offices from Republican to Democrat.
Stacey Abrams’s GOTV efforts got off to a rocky start but seem to be paying important dividends too. After losing her race for Georgia’s governorship, she charged that her victorious GOP opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, had used his position as Georgia’s chief election officer to purge state voter rolls of hundreds of thousands of voters, mainly Democrats, who would have otherwise supported her election bid. Yet she failed to provide enough evidence of illegal wrongdoing to reverse the election outcome. Then she fatuously boosted herself as a potential running mate for Joe Biden. But when that effort likewise failed, she launched major drives to combat voter suppression and register new voters.
Abrams’s last enterprise seems to have paid off. For the first time since 1992 Georgia went Democratic in the presidential election. Moreover, Democrats seeking Georgia’s two senate seats were able to win enough votes to deprive the Republican incumbent senators of the absolute majorities needed for victory under Georgia’s peculiar election laws and force runoffs scheduled for January 5.
The importance of the runoffs’ outcomes cannot be overstated. The U.S. Senate is organized by party. Whichever party has the majority elects the Majority Leader and wins all committee and subcommittee chairmanships and majorities on all policy-making committees and subcommittees. The Republicans emerged from the November elections with 50 senate seats, to 46 seats held by the Democrats and 2 seats held by independents who support the Democrats. The Republicans need to win at least one of Georgia’s two seats to retain their majority in the Senate. Should they lose both seats, incoming Vice President Kamala Harris will use her tie-breaking power as President of the Senate to vote to organize the Senate under Democratic control.
Yet President Trump, the most prominent members of his legal team, and Georgia’s two Republican senators seeking to hold onto their seats almost seem to be doing everything they can to throw the election to the Democrats. If Stacey Abrams has charged Governor Kemp with anti-Democratic corruption, Trump and his lawyers have charged Kemp with corruption, incompetence, and cowardice in letting the Democrats win Georgia’s electoral votes. Trump has implied, and his lawyers have explicitly charged, that thanks to Kemp and Georgia’s current Secretary of State (Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican), the Senate election is so rigged to favor the Democrats that Republicans might as well not even vote. The GOP Senators have demanded that Raffensperger resign. Somewhere Stacey Abrams must be laughing her head off and having a blast.
Or maybe not. Stacey Abrams may be too busy getting out the vote for Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidates. She’s evidently learned that the best way to win elections is to cease wailing about election fraud (unless one has evidence to support the claim) and to get on with the down and dirty nitty gritty of GOTV. This involves the acquisition and use of computer hardware and software to analyze reams of demographic and past election data to find out where potential voters might be, and the use of old-fashioned shoe leather to find them, persuade them to register, and finally actually get them to the polls. This work can be long, hard, and tedious. But it wins elections—and that’s the point, isn’t it?
So if Trump and his minions want to win Georgia’s Senate seats and thereby retain both the U. S. Senate and Mitch McConnell’s ability to make life miserable for the Democrats, they should stop with the attacks on Governor Kemp, Secretary of State Raffensperger, and other Georgia Republicans. They should follow the examples of Jim and Stacey–two activists who know how to actually WIN.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.