So why should Californians care about a runoff election for two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia occurring Jan. 5? The answer is simple. The outcome of that election will have major implications for national politics and that includes profound impacts on California. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in Georgia will not stay in Georgia.
It is rare that two Senate seats are up for grabs in a single state simultaneously. And because the outcome will determine control of the U.S. Senate, it has focused the political attention of the entire nation on the Peach State. In one of the races, Republican Kelly Loeffler will be facing Democrat Raphael Warnock to retain the seat to which she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp. In the other, Republican incumbent David Perdue will be up against Jon Ossoff, a wealthy Democrat who failed to win a seat in the House of Representatives in a 2017 special election after spending millions of dollars in the most expensive congressional race in American history.
Currently, the United States Senate is under Republican control with a 50-48 advantage. If Loeffler and Perdue win, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will retain the gavel with a 52-48 majority. If just one wins, the Republicans will still control assuming no defections on major issues. However, if the two Democrats win, the Senate will be at a 50-50 tie with the newly elected Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding votes.
If the latter occurs, Democrats would be in complete control of Washington, ruling both chambers of Congress and the White House. For California, that would mean some major changes that progressives would likely celebrate.
First, Democrats could very well bail out those states that have shown no spending discipline. California, New York and Illinois are high on that list because their pension costs are out of control.
Progressives could also force through major labor legislation that limits opportunities for freelance work and grants new powers to unions that could effectively undercut “right to work” laws in many states. Public sector unions would see their political wishes granted.
For advocates of school choice, full Democratic party control in D.C. would mean programs such as vouchers, tax credits and charter schools would be curtailed or eliminated entirely. These are programs that are effective in educating school- aged children, which is why they are so popular with parents, especially those in economically struggling neighborhoods. But school choice is a threat to dominant union control, so don’t expect any sympathy from Washington if Georgia is lost to progressives.
For transportation, expect that roads and highways will play second fiddle to mass transit and boondoggles like high-speed rail. In the years since Republicans have controlled at least one house of Congress, they have effectively shut down any further funding of California’s failed high-speed rail project. If the Senate flips to Democrat control, expect a massive infusion of federal bailout money to the “train to nowhere.”
Democrats claim that conservative predictions of a hard left turn are overstated, pointing to the filibuster as a Senate rule that gives the minority party substantial influence over most Congressional actions. But we’ve heard that tune before, and many progressive politicians and activists are advocating doing away with the filibuster entirely.
If the ultra-progressives in Congress, who appear to be setting the agenda for the Democrats, gain control, they would not only pass bad laws like raising taxes through the roof, but they would also alter our institutions in a way that would ensure the weakening of Republicans as a political force in the future.
So what are the chances that Republicans win the runoffs in Georgia? They have been aided by the fact that Democrats selected two far-left candidates who are hardly the moderate Democrats more likely to be electable in that state. But Californians should brace themselves in the event Democrats gain full control. The failed policies that we have seen in California will be amplified at the national level.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.