The tight January political calendar means Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue won’t be in office when Congress meets for a joint session on the Electoral College on January 6, regardless of the results of the Senate runoff the day before.
Sydney Butler, chief of staff to the secretary of the Senate — who oversees the chamber’s operations and procedures — confirmed to CNN that Perdue’s term will officially expire at the end of the current Congress on January 3, leaving his seat temporarily vacant.
Officials in both Gov. Brian Kemp’s and Perdue’s offices say that even if he is projected the winner on January 5, the seat will remain vacant until the runoff results are certified — which could take up to two weeks.
That will leave Republicans in the Senate with one less vote in the event of an challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Georgia’s other US senator, Republican Kelly Loeffler — who is locked in her own runoff race in the state with Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock — was appointed to fill retired Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat and will remain in office until a winner of the Senate special election runoff is sworn in.
Loeffler told CNN Sunday evening “everything’s on the table right now” when asked if she will accept the Electoral College results.
“This President has fought for us, we’re fighting for him,” she said. “We need to have free and fair elections. But we also need to make sure Georgians get out and vote on January 5.”
According to Kemp’s office, the governor only has the ability to appoint a successor to an unexpired term. Because Perdue’s full term ends on January 3, that precludes Kemp from appointing someone to fill the vacancy that will be left until the results of the runoff are settled.
An official in Perdue’s office told CNN that Perdue does not plan to participate in any Senate business between noon on January 3 and when the results of the runoff are certified.
Despite repeated inquiries to both his campaign and his Senate office, Perdue has refused to publicly say where he stands on the efforts by GOP members of Congress planning to object to the Electoral College results.
At an event Monday in Atlanta, Perdue’s opponent, Jon Ossoff, told CNN that Perdue needs to make clear whether or not he supports the efforts to object to the Electoral College results, even if a technicality would prevent him from serving during the small window of time the Congress takes up the matter.
“He must make it clear where he stands and Senator Perdue is supporting these out of state efforts to disenfranchise his own constituents. It was young voters who delivered this state for Joe and Kamala (Harris), it was Black voters who delivered this state for Joe and Kamala, and when Senator Perdue supports efforts to throw out ballots cast by his own constituents, that’s an attack on Black voters here in Georgia, that’s an attack on voting rights in Georgia,” Ossoff said.
“Senator Perdue make it clear where he stands, and this is why we need a new voting rights act, to secure voting rights for all.”