If Republicans lose in Georgia’s Senate runoffs, one of the state’s most vocal Republican election officials said the blame will rest squarely with President Donald Trump.
Speaking with CNN’s Amara Walker on Tuesday evening, Gabriel Sterling said Trump’s repeated efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential race in his state needlessly divided the Republican Party, possibly costing them the critical Senate races there.
Tuesday’s runoffs will determine the makeup of the Senate for the next two years, with either Loeffler or Perdue needing to win to maintain Republican control. Both races are neck-and-neck in the state that handed a victory to President-elect Joe Biden with a margin of only two tenths of a percentage point.
Sterling told Walker that responsibility for either Loeffler or Perdue losing would "fall squarely on the shoulders of President Trump and his actions since Nov. 3."
"When you tell people, your vote doesn’t count and has been stolen, and people start to believe that, then you go to the two senators and ask the secretary of state to resign and trigger a civil war in the Republican Party when we need to unite, all of that stems with his decision-making since the Nov. 3 election," Sterling said.
Sterling, a Republican, has frequently urged Trump and his allies to accept the results of the election, even as he at times acknowledged that he too would have preferred a Republican victory.
Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election results have led to a cleavage within the Republican Party regarding whether to support the president’s futile efforts or to respect the results of the race. Dozens of Republican senators and members of the House announced their intention to challenge the Electoral College votes when Congress meets to certify the results Wednesday. But several other GOP members have disavowed the maneuver as undemocratic and a waste of time.
Both Loeffler and Perdue have remained staunchly at the president’s side, with Loeffler announcing during a campaign rally Monday that she will join her colleagues in challenging the Electoral College results.
Sterling has been one of the state’s most public election officials, often going before reporters to debunk disinformation about the state’s voting procedures. His and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s refusal to entertain Trump’s efforts to reverse the election has made them targets of the president’s ire in the past months, with Trump even threatening to campaign against Raffensperger in 2022 as retribution.
Sterling went before reporters last month to rigorously condemn the president’s personal attacks against Georgia election officials in particular, and to lambaste Loeffler and Perdue for supporting Trump’s election misinformation.
"People don’t understand elections. Elected officials don’t understand elections. Even people who are in elections for a long time don’t know all the pieces and parts. So it’s easy to exploit people’s ignorance on those fronts. It did turn into a giant game of Whac-A-Mole," Sterling said Tuesday. "It’s continuing to come and we kept on knocking it down and [Trump] just keeps on persisting at making these false claims."