Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) announced Monday night that she will join about a dozen of her Senate Republican colleagues and object to President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory in a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Loeffler had been noncommittal on whether she would join the symbolic, dead-end effort to challenge Biden’s victory, and she tweeted her announcement shortly before President Trump arrived in “North Georgia in a push to drive up rural white support ahead of Tuesday’s high-stakes runoff,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Loeffler and David Perdue (R-Ga.), whose Senate term officially ended Sunday, are both on the ballot Tuesday, and if either of them wins, Republicans will keep control of the Senate. Perdue won’t be able to participate in Wednesday’s ceremonial electoral vote count because he is not currently a sitting senator, but he encouraged his colleagues Monday night to object to Biden’s win. One way to read Loeffler’s last-minute announcement, the Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein said, is “as a sign Republicans believe they’re in trouble tomorrow and are desperate to turn out rural white supporters who haven’t warmed to the two GOP incumbents yet.”
Loeffler’s Democratic challenger, Rafael Warnock, responded to her “disappointing” statement by saying “Georgians need a senator, not a sycophant.” On Sunday, Warnock said “Loeffler has a responsibility to speak out against the unsubstantiated claims of fraud, to defend Georgia’s elections, and to put Georgia ahead of herself. She has not and never will.”
The push to object to Biden’s victory has drawn about 140 House Republicans but has caused a schism in the Senate GOP caucus. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) announced Monday night that he will not join the effort, lamenting that the futile and inappropriate campaign “has become the exclusive litmus test for whether or not a member of Congress stands with President Trump.” Cramer counted himself among the most “fervent, consistent, longstanding” supporters of Trump, but said he does not “have the authority to overturn the will of other states on behalf of North Dakota, nor do other members have the ability to overturn the will of my state.”