In what some might regard as a surprising location, President Trump campaigned in Valdosta Friday for Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
This, of course, is because a critical U.S. Senate runoff race is coming up on Jan. 5, which will determine if Republicans maintain control of the Senate, or if Democrats flip the Senate and control both chambers of Congress.
Not only is this race significant for the Senate itself, but the party that wins the Senate will have massive implications on the presidency, whether President-Elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, or whether court challenges end up being successful for Donald Trump.
But for a Trump rally, why the City of Valdosta? In a brief interview with the Valdosta Daily Times, VSU Political Science professor Dr. James LaPlant offered a plausible explanation.
“I think fundamentally what it reflects is that they have to drive up turnout in rural areas of the state. Those are your most Republican areas,” he said.
LaPlant remarked that northern, more urban parts of the state, such as Atlanta and Macon, will most likely vote Democratic for the runoff, as they did in the general election, which is why he believes that the Republican focus is on the southern part of the state. He also added that rural South Georgia was instrumental to Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s victory in 2018.
In addition, Trump easily carried Lowndes County in the 2020 presidential election, winning 56% of the vote. Upon further inspection, and after considering Valdosta is located in a Republican stronghold of the state, it’s not too surprising that the Trump campaign would hold a rally here, and if anything, makes sense.
Even though the rally was technically geared towards driving turnout for Loeffler and Perdue, it was obvious that the large crowd gathered at Valdosta Regional Airport was there for Trump, as chants such as “We love you” and “Four more years” were common throughout the night.
This was even more evident when Perdue briefly took the stage. Attempting to say a few words, Perdue was immediately interrupted by loud chants from the crowd shouting “Fight for Trump.” Perdue quickly exited in the stage.
This was a moment that clearly demonstrated two prevalent feelings among the base of the Republican party. One, elected Republicans haven’t shown adequate support for Trump amidst his fight to remain in office. Two, Loeffler and Perdue aren’t obligated to the base’s vote, but rather need to earn it. Hence, perhaps fervently fighting for Trump would constitute as earning their vote.
Whether Republicans know it or not, the GOP’s support derives from the base’s support for Trump. Knowing this, winning the Senate for Loeffler and Perdue in Valdosta, South Georgia, and beyond means being as passionate for Trump as the voters are.
Story written by Grant Palmer. Photo courtesy of Bethany Davis, Managing editor of graphic designs.