Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican up for reelection and a close Trump confidant, issued a blunt warning to GOP activists during an off-the-record conference call this week: Democrats are in position to turn his state blue and take the Senate.
“Here’s the reality: The state of Georgia is in play,” Perdue said Monday, according to an audio recording of a call with “Women for Trump” obtained by CNN. “The Democrats have made it that way.”
The stark warning from a GOP senator – who is not considered among the most vulnerable Republicans this election cycle – illustrates the fear among Republicans that Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate continue to grow.
Already facing the prospect of defending the Senate with an unpopular Republican president in an election cycle with more seats to defend than to target, Republicans are up against a bevy of well-funded Democratic challengers and are now navigating a public health and economic crisis that has injected deep uncertainty into the national political landscape.
Indeed, the political environment for GOP senators has only become more challenging in the past few months. Republican incumbents in Colorado, Arizona, Maine and North Carolina always knew they would face a tough path to reelection. Now Republicans in more conservative states – Georgia, Iowa, Montana and even Kansas – have realized the same.
In January, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided not to run for the open seat in Kansas, leaving behind a divisive primary field, including the polarizing conservative Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State who lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 governor’s race. Weeks later, Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia announced his insurgent campaign for the seat that GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler was just appointed to fill. In March, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock announced he’d run for Senate in Montana, instantly putting the seat held by GOP Sen. Steve Daines on the map.
Republicans are particularly concerned that the intraparty battles in Kansas and Georgia, two states Trump carried in 2016, could make it easier for Democrats to gain the three seats they need to take back the Senate if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidency since the vice president breaks a 50-50 tie.
Behind the scenes, GOP senators are trying to instill fear into their base and mobilize their loyal voters into action, Republican sources say. On the private Monday call, Perdue told the GOP activists that the 2020 elections would be a “turning point for America.”
‘Our wake-up call in Georgia’
The Georgia senator laid out an apocalyptic view in the eyes of Republicans if Democrats take back the Senate, warning they would seek to make Washington,