Conservative operatives and a super PAC with ties to infamous GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone appear to be calling for Trump supporters to punish Republicans by sitting out Georgia’s crucial Senate runoffs or writing in Trump’s name instead. And though their efforts remain on the party’s fringes, the trajectory of the movement has Republicans fearful that it could cost the GOP control of the Senate.
The most aggressive call to boycott or cast protest ballots in the two runoff races has, so far, come from a dormant pro-Trump super PAC with ties to Stone, which unveiled a new initiative to retaliate against the Republican Party’s supposed turncoats by handing Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.
A new website that says it was paid for by a group called the Committee for American Sovereignty is encouraging Georgia Republicans to write in Trump’s name in both of the upcoming Senate runoff elections, which could determine the party that controls the majority in the upper chamber during President-elect Joe Biden’s first two years in office. The PAC argued that doing so will show support for the president in addition to forcing Republicans to address the wild election-fraud conspiracy theories floated by Trump supporters and members of his own legal team.
“If we can do this, we have a real chance at getting these RINO senators to act on the illegitimate and corrupt election presided over by a Democrat party that is invested in the Communist takeover of Our Great Nation,” the group wrote on its new website, writeintrumpforgeorgiasenate.com. “We will not stop fighting for you, the American Patriot, against the evils of Socialism and inferior Religions.”
The Committee for American Sovereignty is the name of a political group that, along with a sister nonprofit group, was set up in 2016 as a vehicle for prominent pro-Trump operatives—most notably Stone and former Blackwater chief Erik Prince—to attempt to suppress the Black vote by amplifying claims that Bill Clinton had an illegitimate biracial son. It’s been mostly quiet since then. The PAC’s recent filings with the Federal Election Commission disclose nothing but outstanding federal and state tax liabilities, and its new effort in Georgia doesn’t appear to have received much pickup yet.
Paul Jensen, an attorney for the Committee for American Sovereignty who describes Stone as a “long time client,” claimed that his organization “did not pay for this website.” He speculated in a statement emailed to The Daily Beast after this story was published that “this website’s goal is to elect the Democrat candidate, suggesting that a Democrat-leaning entity, not the Committee for American Sovereignty, is behind it.”
Jensen’s statement underscores the growing concern that Republicans have that anger with how the presidential election ended could cause residual effects on the run off Senate races. To date, there has been a broader push among some of President Trump’s most devoted supporters to withhold support for Georgia Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are facing competitive runoff challenges, in the hope of leveraging the party’s fear of losing the U.S. Senate to get more establishment backing for their election-fraud conspiracy theories. The goal, those operatives say, is to expose a supposed vast election-fraud conspiracy abetted by high-level Republicans in Georgia’s state government, including Gov. Brian Kemp and secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.
The idea of writing in Trump’s name for Senate faces some significant obstacles—chiefly, that there is no space for write-in candidates on Georgia’s runoff ballots, which simply ask voters to select one of two candidates. But the underlying effort to kneecap Georgia Republicans nonetheless gained major traction over the past week thanks largely to the public utterances of Sidney Powell, who claimed in a Saturday interview on Newsmax that her imagined voter-fraud conspiracy involving Dominion voting machines and Venezuelan bribes extended all the way to Kemp and Raffensperger. Powell even suggested that Loeffler would have lost this month to Rep. Doug Collins, her top Republican challenger, had it not been for the supposed voter fraud that tainted Georgia elections.
“Mr. Kemp and the secretary of state need to go with it because they’re in on the Dominion scam with their last-minute purchase or reward of a contract to Dominion of $100 million,” Powell said.
Fears of an intra-party disaster in Georgia fueled by Trump fans enraged over Powell’s conspiracy theories have been tempered a bit by internal polling showing a relatively slim portion of Trump voters in the state are so disgruntled they might rebuke the GOP’s own Senate candidates. One Republican operative who’s seen that polling told The Daily Beast that the number was “in the single digits.”
But the Jan. 5 runoff contests are expected to be extremely tight even barring any defections. And even Republicans who fully buy into the conspiracy theories around the Trump election defeat say they worry that it will depress GOP turnout, potentially enough to cost the party the two Senate seats and the majority.
“The anger over the secretary of state’s incompetence and the governor’s failure to lead could mean that Republicans just stay home,” said Newt Gingrich, the former Georgia congressman and speaker of the House. “I think there’s a very big problem with getting Republicans to turn out.”
Gingrich told The Daily Beast in an interview Monday that he is fully convinced that Democrats will attempt to steal both Senate elections. Republicans “could actually win the popular vote but not win the counted vote,” Gingrich predicted. “They actually have a fairly easy campaign... The problem is when you get done doing all of that—traditional, classic campaigning—if the other side then has sufficient control of the election machinery, they just beat you.”
But Gingrich said he hoped such dire predictions of inevitable election-stealing would drive Republicans to the polls, rather than reinforcing the very voter apathy that he said he was concerned about. “I have a very simple model,” he said. “You have to win by a bigger margin than they can steal.”
Though Gingrich may see the stakes of the runoffs in clear terms, others Republicans don’t. On conservative social-media site Parler, grieving Trump fans said they’ll express their displeasure with the GOP by skipping the runoffs or by writing in Trump’s name. Last week, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh told his audience that “Never Trump” Republicans were desperate for their votes in the runoffs, suggesting that Trump supporters’ votes could be up for grabs.
“It’s funny how these Never Trump people want us to save their bacon right now while they sat on their butts and ridiculed Trump and us for voting for him,” Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh eventually urged his audience to vote for Loeffler and Perdue anyway. But pro-Trump Georgia lawyer Lin Wood, who sued Georgia in an attempt to stop the state’s vote certification, tweeted Saturday that he wouldn’t vote in the runoff unless Loeffler and Perdue took more actions against his claims of Election Day voter fraud.
“Threaten to withhold your votes & money,” Wood tweeted. “Demand that they represent you.”
Conservative operative Ali Alexander, who has organized “Stop the Steal” protests around the country, demanded that Perdue and Loeffler call on Kemp to order a special session of the Georgia legislature to investigate claims of voter fraud. If they didn’t, Alexander said, Trump supporters would boycott the runoff.
“Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue can either do what we said, because we are their voters, we are their donors, we are their volunteers, or we literally won’t vote,” Alexander said, before mimicking his critics’ concerns about Senate control. “‘Oh, but Ali, then Democrats will take the Senate?’ I would rather an enemy in my face than a traitor behind.”
Alexander, who has nearly 200,000 Twitter followers and is prone to grandiose pronouncements about his own influence within the party, threatened to launch primary campaigns across the country under the “Stop the Steal” brand against Republicans deemed insufficiently supportive of Trump’s post-election legal efforts. He claimed he could convince 100,000 Georgia voters to boycott the Jan. 5 runoff, and urged his fans not to donate to the Georgia Senate candidates or Republican groups, saying they had enough money already.
“Nobody should be donating to the NRSC, the RNC, Kelly Loeffler, or David Perdue,” Alexander said.
Alexander’s comments prompted pushback from Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the onetime QAnon supporter now set to be sworn into Congress in January. Greene tweeted that the threats would “hand over the Senate to the Socialist Democrats!”
“People taking donations to their personal PayPal should spend it on elections,” Greene tweeted, an apparent jab at Alexander for soliciting donations to his PayPal account from Trump voters.
Other Republicans have rushed to make sure Trump voters angry at the GOP still show up to vote in the runoffs. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Monday for Trump supporters to buck calls from conservative activists to sit out the vote.
“That is NONSENSE,” Trump Jr. tweeted. “IGNORE those people.”