What a week's it's already been. The coronavirus is spreading in Asia and has moved into Europe, disrupting conferences and businesses. Stocks fell over 6% in the first two days of the week, and the Democratic National Committee held a debate in South Carolina prior to the Saturday primary and Super Tuesday next week.
It's only Wednesday.
The Democratic debate was the normal performance of who can interrupt, attack and claim that they are the best candidate, but there seemed to be a bit more urgency to attack Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Democrats' front-runner. Sanders has won 24 delegates, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden, who has 9 delegates. While there has been much press coverage of the caucuses and primaries so far, the horses are barely out of the starting gate; there will be over 1,400 delegates awarded between South Carolina on Saturday and Super Tuesday.
The momentum and the leader can change quickly.
As for Sanders taking the lead, he should not have been allowed to participate. Why the DNC would allow a self-identified independent into its primary process makes no sense. But then again, I also believe that having national borders is essential, and that it's OK to ask for photo ID when people vote to ensure that the voters are who they say they are.
During the debate, Biden performed well. He might also do well in the South Carolina primary. While his "Uncle Joe" status lets him get away with more gaffes than most, there are limits. If he has many more appearances like Monday night's South Carolina event where he declared, "I'm a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate," people might begin to wonder.
While in South Carolina, DNC Chair Tom Perez announced that he was adding my home state of Georgia to the list of investment and potential pickup states for the 2020 election. "We have two Senate pickup opportunities there," he said. "We've got great candidates." He mentioned the recent success of 6th District Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., and said, "but for voter suppression, Stacey Abrams would be Gov. Abrams."
His first point: Georgia is in a unique situation because it has the normal U.S. Senate race, with Republican incumbent David Perdue, as well as a special election for the seat previously held by Republican Johnny Isakson, now held by Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp. This Senate race will not have a primary but will be determined by what's called a jungle general. If no candidate wins over 50% on the general election day, then the two top candidates will compete in a runoff in January.
Loeffler is being challenged by several Democrats as well as Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. While this does pit one Republican against another, with the additional Republican interest, one of them will probably either win or go to a runoff with the top Democratic vote getter. While Democratic candidate Matt Lieberman is currently in the lead, the more charismatic Rev. Raphael Warnock might soon overtake him. The Democratic sleeper in this race could turn out to be former federal prosecutor Ed Tarver, who is a moderate.
Regarding the allegations of voter suppression in Georgia, let's look at the facts. During Kemp's tenure as Georgia secretary of state from 2010 to 2018, the number of registered voters doubled for Hispanics, increased 81% for Asians and increased 11% for African Americans. During the same time period, the number of white registered voters declined by 1%. We are one of 15 states nationally to use an opt-out voter registration system. This means that when U.S. citizens get a new driver's license, renew a license, update their information or get an information card, then they are registered to vote unless they opt out.
Moving to Perez's point regarding the possibility that the Democrats will pick up Rep. McBath's seat, it's worth noting that Michael Bloomberg's organizations spent $4.5 million on her behalf. Money did work in that case, but barely. McBath won by 3,264 votes, a little over 1%. That works out to $1,378 per winning vote.
Bloomberg mentioned his spending during Tuesday's debate. Of the 40 new Democratic U.S. representatives elected in the 2018 elections that resulted in Nancy Pelosi becoming House speaker, he helped 21 of them, spending $100 million to help get them elected. This success might have inspired Bloomberg to make his own bid for public office, since he had seen that money can make a difference. But it's no guarantee. While it does help, it can't make a bad candidate a good one.
So, what can everyday Republicans do? For now sit back and enjoy the Democratic nomination process, the one where the Democrats beat one another up and President Donald Trump follows with a rally filled with thousands of Americans cheering for their country, and their president.