The Runoff Report: GA runoff candidates weigh in on COVID relief bill

Note: The Runoff Report will be back Monday, Dec. 28. Happy holidays!

Republicans have secured 50 seats in the next U.S. Senate compared to Democrats’ 48 (including two independents who caucus with them). Control of the next Senate comes down to Georgia’s runoff elections. In The Runoff Report, we provide the latest on each race and the fight for Senate control.

On Dec. 21, Congress passed a $900 billion spending bill containing COVID-19 relief provisions. The bill includes:

  • $325 billion in aid for businesses, including more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program
  • $166 billion for direct payments, including $600 for most individuals and $1,200 for most couples
  • $120 billion to temporarily give people on unemployment a $300 weekly supplement
  • $1.4 trillion in funding for government agencies through September

Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue voted to pass the bill. 

President Donald Trump has not signed the bill as of press time. He tweeted a video Tuesday night calling for Congress to increase direct payments to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples and to “get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation.”

Runoff candidate statements about the spending bill, along with other campaign news, are below.

Regular election updates

David Perdue tweeted an ad saying Ossoff “opposed past COVID relief and encouraged Democrats to block additional aid for months, but Sen. Perdue never gave up. Perdue again delivered real, meaningful help for Georgians: $900 billion in new COVID relief, direct checks to Georgians, critical funding for vaccine distribution, small businesses, public schools, and help for folks out of work.”

Perdue also campaigned in Clarke, Jackson, Barrow, Oconee, and Morgan counties on Dec. 22.

Jon Ossoff tweeted, “Even @realdonaldtrump says $600 is a joke. @Perduesenate, do better.” Ossoff said in an interview with MSNBC that he would have voted for the bill because people need help, but that the direct payments are not enough and that Republicans in the Senate, including Perdue, held up relief. Ossoff said, “We need additional, substantial, direct COVID relief, and the only way we’ll get it is by winning these two Senate races in Georgia.”

Ossoff also spoke at Morris Brown College on Dec. 22. He said he would work to secure funding for historically black colleges and universities if elected.

This election is for a full six-year term ending January 2027. Perdue was first elected in 2014. Ossoff ran against Karen Handel (R) in the 6th Congressional District special election in 2017.

Click here for more coverage of the regular election.

Special election updates

Kelly Loeffler tweeted, “We just secured an additional $900 billion in targeted relief, more PPP funding, and extended unemployment benefits by 11 weeks. @ReverendWarnock has done NOTHING to help Georgians during this pandemic except peddle lies and play politics.”

Loeffler also released three new ads. One ad focuses on Loeffler’s plan for investments in minority communities, and the others focus on COVID-19 relief.

Loeffler’s campaign released a statement in response to police body camera footage aired on Fox News on Dec. 22 showing Warnock’s ex-wife making allegations about his behavior. In March, she claimed Warnock had run over her foot with a car. Warnock was not charged, and he has denied the allegation. 

The Loeffler campaign statement read, “Raphael Warnock’s ex-wife Ouleye’s allegations are deeply troubling. Domestic abuse is a very serious issue, and this new body cam footage is certainly difficult to watch. Georgians deserve answers to these very serious allegations, and his ex-wife’s voice deserves to be heard.”  

Raphael Warnock tweeted the following:

“Billionaire @KLoeffler thinks $600 will cover your rent, groceries, and hospital bills.” 

“When we take back the Senate, @ossoff and I will pass $1200 stimulus checks.”

“If Democrats controlled the Senate, aid for essential workers in local governments — firefighters, law enforcement, teachers — would be in the COVID relief bill. Republicans refused to vote for a bill with that aid in it. It’s time to fire @KLoeffler and @Perduesenate.”

Warnock campaign representative Michael Brewer said in response to the police body camera footage that Loeffler “spent her entire campaign attacking Reverend Warnock and has now stooped to a new low of attacking his family. … While she continues to wage her pathetic and dishonest campaign, Reverend Warnock will keep fighting for the people of Georgia who Kelly Loeffler left behind.”

The special election will fill the remainder of the term Johnny Isakson (R) won in 2016. He resigned in Dec. 2019, and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA team Atlanta Dream. Warnock is senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The winner will complete the term ending in January 2023. 

Click here for more coverage of the special election.

Overall campaign updates

  • Ossoff, Warnock, and public service commissioner runoff candidate Daniel Blackman (D) held a game night event on Twitch.

Today: Runoff voter turnout so far

The following data comes from Ryan Anderson works in data and marketing for the Atlanta firm Bounteous. is his personal project.

  • 1,884,692 people had voted in Georgia’s runoff elections as of Dec. 22. That includes:
  • 1,205,483 early in-person votes 
  • 679,209 mail ballots 
  • Runoff turnout so far is 6% lower than at this point in the general election.
    • Turnout is 3% higher for in-person votes
    • Turnout is 19% lower for mail ballots 
  • 57,429 (3%) of those who have cast runoff ballots so far did not vote in the Nov. 3 general election also provides data on runoff turnout as a percentage of total general election turnout by county. We mapped it out. View the map on our site here, where you can hover over each county to see turnout percentages. 

Click here for early voting locations.