In a surprising move, Republican Senator David Perdue, who will be appearing in a close race with a Democratic challenger to keep his seat in an upcoming special election in Georgia early next month, referred several times to a new administration run by President-elect Joe Biden and supported president Donald Trump's unfounded claims that fraud tainted the election.
In a private Zoom call with the Republican Jewish Coalition obtained by The Washington Post, Perdue, appeared to tacitly acknowledge Biden's victory in public, that too just days before Trump plans to travel to Georgia to campaign for Perdue and fellow senator Kelly Loeffler. The fact that Perdue has previously declined to acknowledge Biden's victory as he campaigns in the Georgia Senate runoff does not fail to raise the eyebrows.
"We know what this change of command at the top will mean with our foreign relations," Perdue said in the video, adding: "If we can keep the majority in the Senate, we can at least be a buffer on some of the things that the Biden camp has been talking about in terms of their foreign policy."
Perdue's Trump effect
Perdue has himself faced public scrutiny over the past several months for potential conflicts of interest while stock trading as a member of Congress. He drew criticism in the spring after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that he bought stock in a personal protective equipment company on January 24 — the same day he received a classified Senate briefing on the coronavirus.
The New York Times reported last week that the Justice Department had been investigating the senator's stock activity around the start of the pandemic; that case was dropped without charges.
Perdue's office has however denied that the senator's stock transactions break any conflicts of interests and said that he doesn't directly manage his investments, according to The Times.
The race of its own
The recording of the show has highlighted a stark tension running through the Senate runoff campaign in Georgia. Perdue used a more hypothetical tone at another point on the video, saying that the Senate could be in a position for such deals "if they end up being in power," referring to the Democrats in the White House.
According to federal filings, it has also been found that the largest American bank lobby group is spending $1 million on television advertisements to boost Perdue, in a bid to ensure the Senate remains in Republican hands after Georgia runoffs in January.
Perdue, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee and has long been an industry ally, is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff.
The race is one of a pair of Georgia US Senate runoffs on January 5 after no candidate won a majority in the November 3 election. Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler is facing Democrat Raphael Warnock in the other runoff.
The contests will determine control of the chamber and are expected to be among the most expensive Senate races in US history.
Excluding Perdue's and Loeffler's seats, Republicans are set to control the Senate 50-48 when they convene next year, meaning the January 5 runoffs will determine the balance of power. If Democrats pick up both seats, they would effectively control the chamber with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote.