As the first week of early voting kicked off in Georgia, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the former vice president and Democrat candidate for President, Joe Biden, spoke to supporters in Downtown Decatur Monday, October 12th.

“Are you ready to turn Georgia blue?” Biden asked supporters.

In Dekalb County, 133,151 voters cast their ballots in the first week of the early voting period. 176,688 people cast their ballots early in Fulton County, representing 22% of all registered voters. Statewide, more than 1.4 million people voted early last week, according to the U.S. Elections Project.

“Georgia’s extremely important,” said C.J. Copeland, senior advisor of the coordinated Biden for President campaign.  “They’ve invested heavily in Georgia. They see an opportunity to expand the voter base and you know, pull voters out.”

Georgia is the only state with both U.S. Senate seats up for grabs. The pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Raphael G. Warnock, has a 7.7 point lead over incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler and a 10-point average lead over U.S. Congressman, Doug Collins, according to the average of polling data made by RealClearPolitics. In the other U.S. Senate race, Democrat Jon Ossoff is in a dead heat with incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue. Sunday morning, Ossoff and Warnock appeared on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” and talked about the state of the race.

“The people of Georgia are rejecting this kind of fear and division, recognizing we need leaders who are competent and honest during a pandemic, recognizing we need leaders who put our health ahead of insurance industry profits, who put direct relief for ordinary people and small businesses ahead of corporate donors in Washington. That’s why Rev. Warnock and I have unstoppable momentum,” said Ossoff.

A Quinnipiac poll last week found Ossoff leading Perdue 51-45 percent, while Warnock led the field in his race with 41 percent, followed by Congressman Doug Collins at 22 percent and appointed-Senator Kelly Loeffler at 20 percent.

Friday evening, Perdue intentionally referred to Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris as “KAH’-mah-lah? Kah-MAH’-lah? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever.” The audience laughed.

A spokesperson for Perdue said the first-term senator “didn’t mean anything by it.”

Her first name is pronounced “KAH’-mah-lah” — or, as she explains in her biography, “‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark.”

More than $155 million has been committed to ads in both of Georgia’s Senate races combined, including past spending and future reservations from candidates and outside groups, according to the Associated Press.

Outside of the two U.S. Senate races, the contentious rematch in Georgia’s U.S. 6th Congressional District between Democrat Lucy McBath and Karen Handel has been a race to watch. Famously, two years ago, McBath beat Handel by 4,000 votes in a race that flipped the district that encompasses portions of Dekalb, Fulton, and Cobb Counties.

Last Tuesday’s debate between the two highlighted abortion as a wedge issue in the race for the 6th Congressional District, which has trended blue in recent years following a long history as a Republican stronghold.

“Voters cannot trust you to stand up for a woman’s right to choose, Ms. Handel,” McBath said during the debate Tuesday hosted by the Atlanta Press Club.

Handel has long-supported replacing the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” with a system that stresses the importance of community health clinics. She also believes she would “again take the lead on legislation to protect those with pre-existing conditions from getting dropped or priced out of insurance” — a popular ACA provision — and would “decouple insurance from employers and employees so individuals can take their plans with them wherever they go.”

Meanwhile, McBath opposes efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and advocates for the expansion of Medicaid in Georgia through funding available from the federal government.

McBath’s first television ad in the 2020 campaign, released in August, was based the murder of her son, 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

“I named Jordan after the river in the Bible. I never expected to be in Congress, but then my son was murdered. My tragedy turned to purpose.”

McBath’s major legislative achievement has been shepherding, through debate and bipartisan approval, a bill supporting disabled veterans (Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need Act of 2019), signed into law by President Donald Trump in August 2019.

Meanwhile, President Trump is hampering down-ballot Republicans even in districts he won, while he’s helping Democrats go on offense in red districts that were not part of the battlefield at the beginning of the cycle. Republicans would need a net gain of 17 seats for a majority in the U.S. House, which appears extremely unlikely.

McBath raised $2.2 million in the third quarter and is left with $1.9 million in cash. Handel has raised approximately $826,000 for the quarter and is left with about $1 million in cash reserves.

The race for Georgia’s U.S. 5th Congressional District, for the right to step into John Lewis’s seat, pits Democrat Nikema Williams against Republican Angela Stanton-King.

While the district is distinctly Democratic, Williams did not participate in the October 12th debate, citing her need to help her kindergarten-aged son with the rigors of virtual schooling. Williams was chosen by Georgia Democratic Party insiders to replace Rep. Lewis on the November ballot after he died in July.

King told the panel that she found Williams’ absence from the debate puzzling – given the challenges of the job she’s seeking.

“Her excuse was that she has to put her son in viral kindergarten. We all have children, the majority of us do. And we have to work while we do that,” King said. “So I’m just wondering – if she can’t make time to do a virtual debate, then how can we depend on her to be there for us and stand up for us in Congress?”

Georgia’s 5th District encompasses the City of Atlanta, including portions of Decatur, East Point, Forest Park, and Morrow.

Angela Stanton-King is the Founder and President of the American King Foundation – whose mission is to reunite American families separated by mass incarceration with a pathway to justice, economic stability, and relational wellness. She serves as the community outreach coordinator for The Alive Center and is the Georgia Regional State Coordinator for Coalition of Leaders United. Williams is the current Chairwoman of the Georgia Democratic Party.

Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

Dr. Jill Biden speaks during a campaign rally at the Manuel J. Maloof Center in Decatur, Georgia on Monday, October 12, 2020. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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