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Disaster bill could shape 2020 US Senate election

Sen. Perdue, running again, was a central figure

ATLANTA — The nearly 8-month standoff over disaster funding for south Georgia farmers spotlights the next big election in Georgia.  

Senator David Perdue (R-GA) was a visible presence in the long and frustrating process to get it through Congress.  He faces re-election next year.

As a political newcomer five years ago, Perdue won votes as a refreshing presence from the business world.  As an elected official, he is the Senate insider who has the ear of President Trump.  Perdue’s relationship with Trump may very well define his re-election.

"You're going to see Perdue attached at the hip to Trump because they're going to want to make that association," said Republican strategist Brian Robinson. "The Perdue people feel very confident Trump is going to win Georgia."

Perdue has stood by Trump even when the president tried to add border security to the disaster package. Trump agreed to remove that element, leading to Senate passage of the bill this week.

"President Trump’s approval rating in the state of Georgia is between 37 and 43 percent. That’s quite tepid," said Teresa Tomlinson, former mayor of Columbus, a Democrat who wants to unseat Perdue.  And she’s perfectly happy to remind voters how long it took Congress to get disaster relief passed.

"Mr. Perdue has described himself as being President Trump’s co-pilot and being his influencer. And so if he was going to do those things, he should have done them some time ago," Tomlinson said Friday.

However, with 18 months to go before the next election, more timely issues are likely to emerge.  And Perdue’s fortunes could separate from those of the president.

"While Trump’s favorable rating is always below 50 (percent), Perdue has a twenty point plus approval rating over his disapproval rating. So that’s a huge advantage going in," Robinson said. 

Robinson thinks Perdue will probably outperform President Trump in 2020. The question will be whether Democrats can raise their totals enough to win their first statewide race in 14 years.


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