“I saw the power of one senator when John McCain took to that floor and said ‘no you don’t.’ He said ‘no you don’t.'”
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris hit the phrase harder and slower the second time, giving space for the sparse crowd to cheer, buoyed by car horns on a sunny Monday in Columbus, Georgia.
She described the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) famous thumbs down, when he cast the final vote to sink his party’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“The power of just one individual,” Harris marveled. “And Georgia — Columbus — you have the power to send two!”
Rather than give a conventional rundown of the candidates’ merits, Harris drew on her own experience as a senator to convey the power the chamber and administration would have if they can work in lockstep — if Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff beat Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) in the runoffs, giving Harris the tie-breaking vote in a 50-50 Senate.
She launched into a legislative wishlist for Georgia, measures she and President-elect Joe Biden want to get done, but likely can’t without Senate control.
She named tripling Title I funding, establishing a tax credit for first-time homebuyers, increasing access to capital for small businesses — especially minority-owned small businesses — and locking in a national standard for use of force by police.
When she alluded to the Georgia Republicans in her brief remarks — she had to hurry back to Washington, DC, to vote on the COVID-19 relief bill — she homed in on the legal attacks that have inundated the state’s courts at all levels.
“Why are so many powerful people trying to make it so difficult for us to vote?” she asked, answering later: “Because they know our power.”
A whole host of Republican groups including committees for the senators, the Republican National Committee and the state party have lodged challenge after challenge, trying to get some legal spaghetti to stick and gum up the works of various parts of the election system.
They saw three defeats in two days last week, as three federal judges summarily dismissed the various attempts to get rid of drop boxes, enforce stricter signature matching requirements and lay the groundwork to get ballots from new registrants investigated and possibly tossed.
An appeals court drove a stake through the heart of one of those challenges on Monday, though the lopped-off hydra head was replaced by a highly mockable Lin Wood lawsuit filed over the weekend.
“We knew the kind of games they would play, to suppress our vote, to make it confusing, to discourage us,” Harris said of the general election. “The same challenge exists today.”
So far, judges of all stripes have briskly swatted down the challenges, many expressing their discomfort in being asked to change the rules of an election in which over a million Georgians have already voted.
So the voting continues in a race that what few polls there are capture as essentially tied.
Harris implored the crowd to think of the wide-rippling effects their votes could have.
“I’m not here to tell you what’s in your best interest,” she said. “I’m here to say the decision you make, the work you put into it, will impact people you may never meet.”