Democrats Work to Defy History in Georgia Runoffs That Have Favored G.O.P.

first_imgBut those intimately involved in the two previous Senate showdowns say what happened before is not necessarily predictive of the future. Demographic and cultural change has led to rapid shifts in the state, and Democrats have made concerted efforts to energize and turn out their voters, work that paved the way for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s strong showing in the state.“Both times before, Republicans really turned out and the Democrats didn’t,” said Saxby Chambliss, the former Republican senator of Georgia who won a second term in a 2008 runoff weeks after Barack Obama won the presidency. “This time around, I’m not so sure that is going to be the case. I have told my Republican colleagues that Democrats are fired up going into the race, and with Biden winning Georgia, I assume that gives them momentum.” – Advertisement – In the runoff, held two days before Thanksgiving, almost one million fewer votes were cast than three weeks earlier and Mr. Fowler saw his initial lead vanish, losing to Mr. Coverdell by 16,000 votes — 50.6 percent to 49.6. It was a stinging defeat for Mr. Fowler but a welcome consolation prize for Republicans.“We were more successful in getting our people back than the other side was in getting their people back without a presidential race at the top of the ticket,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who was a consultant to Mr. Coverdell. But he cautioned that the dynamic could be vastly different this time around, given that Mr. Warnock, an African-American, is on the ballot.“Democrats have never had an African-American candidate to vote for at a time when control of the Senate is hanging in the balance,” he said. “The circumstances are clearly different. I don’t know if the outcome will be different.”Mr. Fowler agreed, noting that Black voters now make up a significantly larger share of Georgia’s electorate than they did when he ran.“Whether or not the Democrats can win this thing in the runoff, the demographics are much, much better now they were in 1992,” he said. “The numbers make it more likely than it would have been even six years ago. Either way, it is going to be whisper close.”Mr. Fowler said he shook off the loss fairly quickly, and in 1996, he became ambassador to Saudi Arabia, serving for five years until the election of George W. Bush. Both parties and their allied outside groups are already making huge investments in advertising and grass-roots efforts and a panoply of voter-stirring surrogates — perhaps including Mr. Biden and President Trump — will visit the state over the next two months in an intense effort to win. Vice President Mike Pence is making the trip next week. If Republicans can hold only one of the two seats, they will retain the Senate majority and control much of Mr. Biden’s agenda. If Democrats win both, they will gain a working majority in a 50-50 Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris empowered to break ties. The difference between a Republican-controlled Senate or a Democratic-run chamber is immense when it comes to what legislation would be considered and how nominations would be handled.“I can’t ever recall a time when the difference between a 50-50 Senate and a 51-49 Senate was so stark,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat.Mr. Perdue, like Mr. Fowler, finished first in his re-election bid, with a narrow lead over his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff. Ms. Loeffler, appointed last year to fill a vacancy, trailed her Democratic opponent, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Black minister.The twin runoffs amount to an extraordinary accident of timing that came about because Mr. Perdue’s regularly scheduled re-election race coincided with a special election to finish the term of former Senator Johnny Isakson, who retired in 2019 for health reasons, creating the opening Ms. Loeffler was tapped to temporarily fill.But the unusual runoff rules in Georgia — which require a candidate to gain a majority of the vote to win, and automatically prompt a second contest between the top two vote-getters if no one does — are very much by design. They grew out of efforts by some white Georgians in the 1960s to keep control of the state’s political apparatus after the Supreme Court struck down a system that gave sparsely populated, heavily white rural counties more voting weight than dense urban areas that had large numbers of Black voters.A federal study published in 2007 on the fight for voting rights described how segregationist state legislators then turned to runoffs, which many believed would reduce the likelihood that Black voters would unite behind one candidate to deliver a plurality victory while other candidates split the white vote. By requiring the winner to square off in a head-to-head race, backers of the plan were confident they could better control the outcomes. “Yes, I was disappointed, running six points ahead of the president and being the only state in the country that had this kind of crazy system,” said Mr. Fowler, now 80, looking back on a storied runoff election 28 years ago after Bill Clinton won the presidency.Now that same “crazy system” that overturned Mr. Fowler’s lead, defeating a popular member of Congress known for his folksy stories, has once again seized the attention of both parties. This time, the scenario is playing out in double: Not one but two incumbents, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans, are facing runoffs to keep their seats. This time, the ramifications are even more consequential. The racist origins of the runoff have faded into the background over the years, and defenders argue that it is only fair to require a candidate to win at least half the state’s voters to be elected. “It was just another form of gerrymandering,” Mr. Fowler said.The special election offers a textbook example of why Republicans have wanted to retain the system. Mr. Warnock drew just under 33 percent of the vote, while Ms. Loeffler received just under 26 percent, and another Republican, Representative Doug Collins, captured just under 20 percent. With Mr. Collins now out of the picture, Ms. Loeffler has the potential to consolidate the Republican vote in a one-on-one contest.center_img Georgia’s runoffs, the vestige of segregationist efforts to dilute Black voting power, will determine control of the Senate in races to be decided on Jan. 5. In the past, such contests have heavily favored Republicans because of a drop-off among Democratic voters, particularly African-Americans, after the general election.- Advertisement – In 1992, Mr. Fowler, a former city councilman for Atlanta and congressman considered an up-and-coming force in the Senate, was seeking his second term. He had won in 1986 by surprising a Republican, Mack Mattingly, who had been swept in on Ronald Reagan’s coattails in 1980. Mr. Fowler’s opponent this time was Paul Coverdell, a Republican and a low-key Atlanta businessman, state legislator and ally of the elder George Bush, who had named him head of the Peace Corps.Mr. Clinton’s Southern roots helped him carry Georgia with 43 percent of the vote — the last Democrat to win Georgia before this year — while Mr. Fowler surpassed Mr. Coverdell with 49.2 percent, besting him by 35,000 votes. But under Georgia’s unique law, it was not enough.The runoff rapidly escalated into a bitter clash. As Mr. Clinton prepared to move into the White House, Republicans saw an opportunity to deliver him a quick blow by defeating Mr. Fowler. They pulled out the stops, pouring in money and sending Republican luminaries into Georgia by the planeload, including Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, who promised to turn over his Agriculture Committee seat to Mr. Coverdell if he won.Mr. Fowler drew his own big-name visitor when the president-elect popped over from Little Rock, Ark., for joint appearances in Albany and Macon, where he played the saxophone with a high school band. He and Mr. Fowler raised clasped hands to celebrate what they anticipated as a coming victory.But Mr. Fowler had problems. It was going to be hard to re-create the enthusiasm of the presidential election with the voting finished and Mr. Clinton victorious. Mr. Fowler was also facing backlash for his vote the year before to place Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Mr. Fowler remembered Justice Thomas, a Georgia native, had strong support from the state’s Black community, but was opposed by leading women’s groups because of his anti-abortion stance and accusations of sexual harassment. He said he believed that opposition cost him. “I’ve had a good, adventurous life,” he said.He said he had steered clear of politics over the years but was changing course in this election, relaying knowledge and ideas to Mr. Warnock and his campaign.“I have dusted off my campaign shoes,” Mr. Fowler said. “I think it is that important.” Updated Nov. 12, 2020, 7:30 p.m. ET WASHINGTON — A first-term senator in Georgia narrowly bested his opponent, outrunning his party’s standard-bearer only to face voters again a few weeks later under a quirky system that briefly made the state the center of the political universe after a hard-fought presidential election.The year was 1992, and Senator Wyche Fowler Jr., a Democrat, had amassed more votes than his Republican opponent on Election Day. But he lost his seat three weeks later.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

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Delray Beach Medical Center will no longer allow visitors

first_imgDelray Medical Center has announced a change in its visitors policy amid the coronavirus outbreaks. They will no longer have any visiting hours.The Delray Beach hospital said that the new visitor restrictions will be effective Friday, March 20.The hospital said they will assist their patients with virtual visits.It is not known for how long these new restrictions will last.last_img

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Eritrean soccer players who defected say they live in fear

first_imgLast Updated: 12th October, 2019 21:17 IST Eritrean Soccer Players Who Defected Say They Live In Fear Soccer gave Mewal Tesfai Yosief hope in an Orwellian nation, job in a country of forced military conscription and, possibly, freedom, who live in constant fear Eritrea’s government most tightly controlled regimes in the worldEritrea’s government under President Isaias Afwerki is one of the most tightly controlled regimes in the world, ranked with North Korea and Syria by Freedom House. Opposition parties in the East African nation are prohibited, and human rights monitors say an independent judiciary is nonexistent. Eritrea’s system of indefinite national service and forced military conscription are meant to control the population, according to Human Rights Watch. Questions sent to Eritrea’s soccer association and the government brought no response.READ: Turkish Forces Capture Center Of Key Syrian Border TownThe four young Eritreans described their life as part-time soccer players and part-time military conscripts, where they were required to build roads, guard buildings and follow the army’s whims. Though they had special status as soccer players they were still arrested for basic activities like walking in the street in a group.“If you are more than two people hanging out there is always the suspicion that you are organizing something,” said one player, Hermon Fessehaye Yohannes. Everyone is required to have “permission papers” from the government that allows them to travel in the streets, the players said.Hermon recalled being stopped one night while walking from his work to his home, a distance of roughly 100 meters. His permission papers were at home and a policeman stopped him and refused to listen to his pleas. “He started beating us up with a stick,” Hermon said, asserting that he was then briefly taken to jail. “This is our daily normal life, this is how we live.”It was impossible to independently confirm the incident.READ: Germany: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer Of CDU Deals With A SetbackLove for soccer transformed into financial supportEritrean athletes, especially soccer players, have been known to defect while traveling abroad. In 2012, 17 soccer players defected while in Uganda. Some players reportedly have been forced to pay a bond worth nearly $7,000 to ensure their return. The newly defected players said their interest in soccer was sparked by the professional team Manchester United. While playing in the streets of the capital, Asmara, they heard that the team was the best in the world.“They were our first inspiration,” Mewal said.The players said their love of soccer transformed into a way to support their families and eventually escape the country.“I knew since I was a child the only way to get out of Eritrea was to be a footballer,” said Simon Asmelash Mekonen. The players said their escape plan began when they landed in Uganda. “The previous days whenever we tried there were a lot of people guarding over us, watching us, it was just impossible,” Mewal said. But after defeating Zanzibar and scoring five goals, the team was in a celebratory mood. The players asked permission to go for a walk, then called the only person they knew in Uganda and defected.READ: Putin Calls On ‘illegitimately’ Deployed Forces In Syria To LeaveThe players are scared to death, seeks refugeBut now they fear that Eritrean authorities are searching for them as they wait for word on their asylum claims with the Ugandan government. “We don’t know what will happen to us next,” Hanibal Girmay Tekle said. “We cannot go outside.” The lawyer representing them, Kimberley Motley, said in a letter to the United Nations requesting support that “my clients believe that they will be repatriated back to Eritrea by the authorities and therefore respectfully request to be resettled to another country.” The letter describes how the players were forced into military service at the age of 17.A spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency in Uganda, Duniya Aslam Khan, said Uganda’s government is responsible for granting asylum and that she could not share information regarding the players’ claims. A spokesman for the office of Uganda’s prime minister, Julius Mucunguzi, said he wasn’t aware of the asylum claim but said the Eritreans might not have included the detail that they are soccer players. “Our doors are open to anyone from anywhere who is seeking safety and security and is fleeing from danger,” he said. “The doors of Uganda are open to get the safety they need.” Mewal said he just wants to go “somewhere safe.”READ: Kenya Celebrates As Eliud Kipchoge Completes Marathon In Under 2 Hour LIVE TV 10 months ago Want to make franchise out of ‘Tumbbad’, says Sohum Shah WE RECOMMEND SUBSCRIBE TO US “The only way for you to survive is by getting out (of Eritrea) and we all know this,” Mewal told The Associated Press in a telephone interview this week. “I had to take this opportunity because if I didn’t take this one who knows how long it would have taken me.” Associated Press Television News Soccer gave Mewal Tesfai Yosief hope in an Orwellian nation, a job in a country of forced military conscription and, possibly, freedom at last. After scoring two goals for Eritrea’s national under-20 soccer team during a tournament in Uganda late last month, Mewal defected with three teammates. But after applying for asylum they are in hiding in Uganda, fearful that authorities from home are looking for them. First Published: 12th October, 2019 21:17 ISTcenter_img WATCH US LIVE 10 months ago Bigg Boss: Security upped at Salman Khan’s residence after protests COMMENT 10 months ago Ajay Devgn: Cinema and streaming can happily co-exist Written By FOLLOW US 10 months ago Turkish forces capture center of key Syrian border town 10 months ago Germany: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer of CDU deals with a setbacklast_img read more

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