‘A monumental shift’: Pioneer Valley activists, politicians hail Georgia election results

  • An official counts ballots for Georgia’s Senate runoff election at the Georgia World Congress Center on Wednesday in Atlanta. AP PHOTO

  • WARNOCK

  • OSSOFF

Staff Writer
Published: 1/7/2021 1:00:38 AM
Modified: 1/7/2021 1:00:18 AM

Pioneer Valley activists and politicians reacted with enthusiasm to the runoff election results for two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, which appear to have put the Senate into Democratic Party control.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Baptist pastor and Democratic candidate, was declared the winner over his Republican opponent U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, while Democrat Jon Ossoff was declared the winner over Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

“I think it’s thrilling,” Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, said of the results. “People power won the day.”

Comerford used to work at the progressive advocacy group MoveOn, and she said she had a number of friends who were involved in the runoff elections.

“There is a big smile on my face this morning,” said Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland. “This is a monumental shift for our nation.”

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, was similarly elated by the results.

“I have a bounce in my step,” said McGovern, who expressed hope Wednesday morning that the Ossoff race would be called shortly.

McGovern said Democratic control of the Senate would mean that bills like the one authorizing $2,000 pandemic relief checks will be able to get voted on in the Senate. He said the checks have bipartisan support, but Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had prevented them from coming up for a vote.

Election victories for Warnock and Ossoff would give the Democrats and those who caucus with them 50 out of 100 seats in the chamber. With Vice President Kamala Harris in place as a tiebreaking vote, that would give Democrats control of the Senate. Democrats already control the House.

“There’s great benefit to the people of Western Massachusetts as a result of what happened in Georgia,” McGovern said.

Aside from $2,000 checks, McGovern said infrastructure funding, aid for state and local governments, and legislation to combat the climate crisis are all things he could see passing Congress. He also pointed to the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, named after the late Georgia congressman and civil rights leader, as another piece of legislation he could see passing.

“I’m hoping that will be one of the first items up for consideration in both chambers,” McGovern said.

McGovern is a longtime progressive politician, and he said he’s under no illusion that he’ll be able to see everything he wants passed in the closely divided congressional chambers.

But with the majority and the ability to control the agenda and schedule in the Senate, “at least we will get a fighting chance,” the congressman said.

The Movement Voter Project (MVP), a Northampton-based organization that raises money and distributes it to progressive organizations that mobilize voters around the country, was heavily involved in the Georgia runoffs.

MVP distributed $10.3 million to 52 groups working in the runoffs, most of which were Georgia based. Some of these Georgia groups were the Black Voters Matter Fund, New Georgia Project, SONG Power and the Asian American Advocacy Fund, while some of the national groups were the Working Families Party, Sunrise Movement and Mijente.

“It was a really beautiful validation of our strategy,” Billy Wimsatt, founder and executive director of MVP, said of the results.

Wimsatt said the stretch goal for the groups it was providing money to was knocking on 5.5 million doors, a figure that reached 8.5 million doors.

“The people in our local group are jumping up and down for joy,” said Larry Hott, an activist with MVP’s Western Massachusetts chapter.


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