Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler has danced around questions about whether President Donald Trump lost the November 3 election in a debate with her Democratic challenger before two Georgia run-offs that will decide control of the US Senate.
Facing off with the Reverend Raphael Warnock on a debate stage in Atlanta on Sunday, Loeffler repeatedly called the political newcomer a “radical liberal”, while Warnock criticised Loeffler’s stock trades after the wealthy businesswoman was appointed senator a year ago.
As the debate began, Loeffler sidestepped a question about whether she agreed with Trump’s baseless claims that last month’s election was “rigged”. Trump has not conceded to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
“It’s vitally important that Georgians trust our election process and the president has every right to every legal recourse,” Loeffler said.
Warnock countered by asking why Loeffler “continues to cast doubt on an American democratic election. It’s time to put this behind us.”
Georgia has not elected a Democratic US senator in 20 years but Biden’s narrow victory there over Trump has given Democrats hope. They face an uphill battle, however, and need to win both races to deny Republicans a Senate majority that could be used to block much of Biden’s legislative agenda.
Warnock accused Loeffler of improperly profiting by “dumping millions of dollars of stock” just after becoming senator and early in the coronavirus outbreak, before the stock market turned down.
The Justice Department closed a probe into stock trades made by Loeffler this year, shortly before market turmoil tied to the coronavirus. She denied wrongdoing.
Senator David Perdue, the other Georgia Republican fighting to hold his seat on January 5, opted out of debating Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff again, leaving his rival alone on stage on Sunday.
Ossoff said Perdue may not want to talk about his frequent stock trades while a senator. Earlier this year, the Justice Department shut an inquiry into Perdue’s trades in shares of a financial firm without charges.