Two Georgia Runoffs to Decide Control of US Senate

December 23, 2020

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways

  • President: Ex-Gov. Chris Christie may run in ‘24
  • CA-Sen: Sec of State Alex Padilla (D) appointed
  • GA-Sen: New poll; early vote numbers
  • NM-1; 39: Candidates begin to file for special election
  • NY-22: Still not decided; Judge holds meeting
  • KS, SD Govs: Announce for re-election


2024: Chris Christie: On a radio program earlier this week, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) indicated that he could well become a presidential candidate in 2024, further saying he would consider running even if President Trump again enters the field.  Mr. Christie also left the door open to supporting Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan if he were to decide to become a presidential contender as intimated. 

In addition to Messrs. Trump and Hogan being named as potential candidates, Vice President Mike Pence, former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are often mentioned as early potential contenders.


California:  Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla will be named as Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) replacement upon her resigning to become Vice President of the United States. 

Mr. Padilla was elected Secretary of State in 2014 and re-elected in 2018.  Prior to his statewide service, Alex Padilla served in the California State Senate, and on the Los Angeles City Council, a body for which he was President.  He will become California’s first Hispanic Senator, and the first individual from southern California to serve in the body since 1992. 

Georgia:  Survey USA released their latest Georgia Senate study (12/16-20; 600 GA likely voters; live interview; weighted responses) that finds Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock expanding leads over previous polls.  The S-USA data finds Mr. Ossoff leading Sen. David Perdue (R), 51-46%, while Rev. Warnock has a 52-45% advantage over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R). 

These numbers, and especially the crosstabs that suggest Ossoff and Warnock have 27 and 25 point leads among those reporting as voting early, does not track with reported early vote numbers, however.  According to the Target Smart statistical organization, the Democrats have filed 47.5% of the early and mail ballots versus 46.2% for Republicans among the 1,669,675 votes recorded as being received. 

A wild card are the 105,997 votes from unaffiliated voters.  Unlike in the regular general election when these voters could have supported a minor party candidate, in the runoff, all of these votes will have been cast for one of the major party candidates in both Senate races.  Election Day is January 5th. Clearly, a close finish is expected.


IA-2:  Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart, as expected, has filed an official challenge to her defeat at the hands of Republican Representative-Elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa).  The Iowa Secretary of State has certified Ms. Miller-Meeks as the race winner by six votes.  Ms. Hart is disputing the disqualification of 22 ballots that would flip the election her way.  County authorities rejected the ballots for different reasons, and Ms. Hart is asking the House Administration Committee to review and accept them. 

It is unclear when the committee will review the ballots, but it is probable that the action will delay Ms. Miller-Meeks seating as an official member on January 4th.  Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is the committee chair.  Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) is the Ranking Minority Member. Democrats hold a 6-3 majority on the committee. 

NM-1:  Though Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) is weeks away from being confirmed as Interior Secretary and resigning from the House of Representatives, candidates for the all-but-certain special election sometime early next year are already filing campaign committees with the Federal Election Commission. 

State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque), a retired law professor, and state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque), a consultant, have filed congressional committees.  So has former state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, the Republican-turned-Libertarian.  He will run as an Independent candidate.  Democrats will have the clear advantage to retain this seat, but a competitive special general election could occur.

NY-22:  The judge hearing the post-election dispute between US House candidates Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), the freshman incumbent, and former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R), says the election will not be decided for several more days after he and attorneys for the parties held a private meeting last Friday.  All but two of the eight counties have finalized their counts. 

There are, however, over 2,400 challenged ballots that must be researched and a final decision over each of them rendered before the final vote is certified.  Currently, Ms. Tenney continues to maintain her 12-vote lead.  The judge, Oswego County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte, says he hopes to have a final certification before the House convenes on January 4th.


Georgia:  It appears the 2022 Georgia gubernatorial election will be a re-match between Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D).  It also appears, however, that they will have some company.  Shane Hazel, who scored a 2.3% vote share in the 2020 regular Senate election on the Libertarian Party ballot line, thus forcing the runoff election between Sen. David Perdue (R) and Democrat Jon Ossoff, said at the end of last week that he will seek his party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2022.  

His vote could conceivably again force the major party candidates into a runoff election if the battle is again as close as the 2018 election.  Libertarian Ted Metz was on the gubernatorial ballot in that year but only attracted 0.95% of the vote.  That total was not enough to deny Gov. Kemp majority support.  Should no candidate reach 50% in the 2022 regular general election, a runoff would be scheduled between the top two finishers.

Kansas:  Rumors were beginning to surface suggesting that first-term Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly would not seek a second term in 2022.  This week, she put all doubt aside and announced that she will run for re-election in the next voting cycle.

Gov. Kelly would not expect a major Democratic primary challenge, but local Republicans, buoyed by President Trump and Senator-Elect Roger Marshall’s (R) showing this past November, suggest that a strong GOP nominee will face her in the next general election.  Already mentioned as possible Republican candidates are US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Governor and Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, and state Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

South Dakota:  Gov. Kristi Noem (R), pushing aside some calls for her to challenge Sen. John Thune in the 2022 Republican US Senate primary, announced just before the Christmas break that she will seek a second term as Governor.  Ms. Noem, a former at-large US Representative, was first elected the state’s chief executive in 2018.


New York City:  Public Policy Polling surveyed the open New York City Democratic Mayoral primary and sees two candidates already beginning to break away from the pack of contenders now reaching about a dozen in number. 

According to PPP (12/16-17; 775 NYC likely 2021 Democratic primary voters; interactive response system), surveying for the Education Reform Now Advocacy New York organization, former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who is expected to announce his Mayoral candidacy early next year, would lead the group with 17% preference followed closely by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams who has 16% support.  All other contenders were below the 8% threshold.  Incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.