by Nyamekye Daniel
Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler lambasted her Democratic opponent Raphael Warnock for his liberal proposals during a debate Sunday night.
Loeffler faces Warnock in a high stakes runoff election Jan. 5 – one of two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia that will determine which party holds power in the Senate moving forward.
Loeffler called Warnock a Marxist and a socialist who would raise taxes and change Georgia’s values.
“The Democrats want to fundamentally change America, and the agent of change is my opponent, radical liberal Raphael Warnock,” Loeffler said. “Someone that has attacked police from the pulpit. Someone that has attacked our military. Someone that has agreed to raise taxes on hardworking Georgians as much as $2,000 per family, off the bat.”
Warnock said Loeffler, who is the wealthiest member of Congress, does not care about “ordinary Georgians” and uses her political power for financial gain. He said Loeffler’s attacks aim to stir attention away from her poor policy track record while in office.
“I’m concerned that Washington is not focused on ordinary people,” Warnock said. “You can’t tell the difference between Washington backrooms and corporate boardrooms. My opponent represents the worst of that kind of problem.”
The outcome of the race and a second runoff race between Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff will determine partisan control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans are fighting to maintain their majority hold. If both Democrats win, a 50-50 balance of power will exist, with the vice president holding a tie-breaker vote.
Loeffler, a businesswoman, was appointed to the seat last year after the resignation of former Sen. Johnny Isakson. Loeffler has a net worth of $800 million, Forbes estimated, but referred Sunday to her early life on an Illinois farm. Loeffler has been criticized and was investigated by the U.S. Justice Department for trading stocks after advance warning of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, investigators closed the case, finding no wrongdoing on Loeffler’s part.
Loeffler touted the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in late March as one of her achievements as a senator. She blamed Democrats for holding up additional coronavirus aid for Americans.
“My opponent radical liberal Raphael Warnock would be a rubber stamp for [Sen.] Chuck Schumer and [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi as they try to use this pandemic to put the cost on the back of hardworking Georgians in the form of high taxes to fundamentally change America, and I’m not going to stand by and let that happen,” Loeffler said.
Warnock said his comments about law enforcement and the military were taken out of context, and he is against defunding the police.
“I actually brought together the law enforcement officers here in this city, the chief of police, Black Lives Matter activists, the sitting attorney general, families, parents, all in my church, focused on working on these issues that we’ve seen emerge time and time again,” said Warnock, who serves as senior pastor at the Atlanta church that was led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Loeffler also criticized Warnock for a sermon in which he said, “you can’t serve God and the military.” Warnock said the ceremony originated from a text in the Bible that says, “you can’t serve God and mammon,” which refers to not serving “two masters.”
Both opponents used the Bible as a reference for the debate Sunday, as Warnock was questioned about his ability to separate church from state. Warnock said the political position would allow him to continue his ministry, advocating for health care, voting rights, essential workers and ordinary people.
Loeffler vowed to keep taxes low and protect school-choice programs and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 if reelected.
“The Jobs Act that Raphael Warnock would overturn would raise taxes on single moms, making $39,000 with two kids. Their taxes would go up 20%,” Loeffler said. “That’s not a way to help hardworking families here in Georgia succeed.”
Perdue and Ossoff also were invited to participate in the debate series hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on Sunday, but Perdue declined. Reporters interviewed Ossoff during the time slot instead.
Watch the full debate:
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Nyamekye Daniel is a staff reporter for The Center Square. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel’s work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.