'They have not earned your vote': Trump allies urge Georgia Republicans to sit out Senate runoffs

Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
·4 min read

Allies of President Donald Trump's efforts to challenge last month's election urged Republicans in Georgia on Wednesday to stay at home for the Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections, arguing Trump supporters shouldn't take part in another "rigged election."

Attorneys Lin Wood and Sidney Powell told a crowd of Trump loyalists not to vote for either of the two Georgia incumbent Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue, during a "Stop the Steal" gathering in Alpharetta, Georgia.

The event, billed as a press conference but resembling the raucousness of a Trump rally, was filled with unfounded claims about the election won by President-elect Joe Biden. Attention also turned to the two runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate.

"Where is Kelly Loeffler here? Where is David Perdue?" said Wood, who unsuccessfully sued Georgia seeking to stop the presidential election's certification. "He ought to be standing right here.

"Do not be fooled twice," he added. "This is Georgia. We ain't dumb. We're not going to vote on Jan. 5 on another machine made by China. You're not going to fool Georgians again. If Kelly Loeffler wants your vote, if David Perdue wants your vote, they've got to earn it."

Attorney Lin Wood speaks during a rally Wednesday in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Attorney Lin Wood speaks during a rally Wednesday in Alpharetta, Georgia.

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Georgia election officials have been under fire from Trump and his supporters after an initial state-ordered recount affirmed that Biden won Georgia by 12,284 votes. The Trump campaign requested a second recount, which was expected to be released Thursday.

The remarks underscored the delicate politics the two Republican senators must navigate to turn out a base convinced the presidential election was stolen. Trump, who is holding a rally Saturday for Perdue and Loeffler in Valdosta, Georgia, has urged Republicans to vote for the senators even if they're upset with the presidential election outcome.

Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia
Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia

But Wood said the Georgia senators must "demand publicly, repeatedly, consistently" for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to call a special legislative session to address the 2020 presidential election.

"And if they do not do it, they have not earned your vote. Don't you give it to them. Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election? For God's sake, fix it. You've got to fix it before you do it again."

Neither Loeffler, running against Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock, nor Perdue, running against Democrat Jon Ossoff, attended the rally. Kemp has said state law prohibits him from "interfering" with an election.

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Wood delved into the Senate runoff elections after Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones, a Democratic lawmaker who had endorsed Trump during the campaign, repeatedly urged the crowd to "hold the line" by voting for Loeffler and Perdue.

"Now I love Vernon Jones," Wood said. "Vernon Jones and I are more alike than different, but I'm going to disagree with Vernon Jones."

Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Attorney Sidney Powell speaks during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Powell, a conservative former prosecutor and former Trump attorney, doubled down on claims she has pushed for weeks that an algorithm flipped votes from Trump to Biden. She also urged Georgia Republicans to sit out the January election.

"There should not be a runoff, certainly not on Dominion machines," Powell said, referring to the voting machine company. "I think I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all until your vote is secure. And I mean that, regardless of party. We can't live in a free republic unless we know our votes are legal and secure."

She said Georgia must adopt voter identification and paper ballots – both of which are already used in the state – as well as require thumbprints on absentee ballots.

More: Attorney General Barr says Justice Dept. finds no evidence of fraud to alter election outcome

At one point, Wood led chants of "Do your job!" aimed at U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who told The Associated Press this week that his department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have changed the outcome of the election.

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting implementation system manager, said, "We encourage all voters to vote in an election" in response to the pleas from Wood and Powell.

He said Powell lied when she said algorithms flipped votes, noting that a hand recount of the results reaffirmed Biden won the election by more than 12,000 votes.

Sterling also said Powell lied when, in response to a question from the crowd, she accused the Georgia secretary of state's office of not conducting an actual hand recount.

"They lied to the people who are believing them to their face," he said. "It's this kind of lying and this kind of rhetoric that is continuing to inflame passions on the ground unnecessarily, and it's wrong."

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump allies urge Georgia Republicans to sit out Senate runoffs