Georgia Democrats appreciate the enthusiasm. They really do. They very much want to win the Jan. 5 runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate, and they want all the help they can get.
But they really don’t want people from around the country rushing there to help out in the middle of a pandemic.
“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, but please do not ― I repeat, do not book plane tickets or gas up your car and make plans to travel to Georgia,” said Seth Bringman, spokesperson for former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. “There is a pandemic, and thanks to so-called leaders like Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ― who downplayed the virus while profiting from it ― cases are rising across the country.”
Bringman emphasized that Democrats in the state are “not looking for an influx of people at this time” and that contributing money and reaching out to voters from afar is the best way to help out.
“We are thrilled to have so much volunteer interest in helping our efforts in battleground Georgia, and look forward to continuing our strong volunteer program into this runoff,” Maggie Chambers, a spokesperson for the Georgia Democratic Party, said. “Our team encourages out-of-state folks to put public health and safety first, and take advantage of one of our many opportunities to volunteer remotely and safely from home.”
On Jan. 5, Democrat Raphael Warnock will face off against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), while Democrat Jon Ossoff will attempt to unseat Sen. David Perdue (R). No candidate won a majority of the votes in the November elections, which forced the races into runoffs.
And with no other elections going on that day, the nation’s attention will be focused on those contests, which have taken on even more significance with the balance of the Senate hanging in the air.
Democrats across the country are already mobilizing. Last week, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang said he was moving to Georgia to help out and asked his followers if they had rooms available to house volunteers coming to the state.
Groups in Georgia are getting an outpouring of in-person offers to help the campaigns. But while the sentiment is appreciated, it’s not necessarily what people in the state want right now.
“Due to the pandemic, it is important for those who are wanting to help to coordinate directly with organizations directly on the ground,” said James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP. “Financial contributions are definitely helpful as it will take a lot of resources to pull this off, but there are other ways to support! We will be doing a lot of digital organizing and welcome all hands on deck to continue our virtual GOTV campaign.”
The Warnock campaign declined to weigh in, and the campaigns for Ossoff, Perdue and Loeffler didn’t return HuffPost’s requests for comment.
What the ground game for the runoff elections will look like is still taking shape. The Warnock campaign has been doing “no-contact lit drops,” giving out information about voting at people’s homes while practicing social distancing.
Although the focus right now is on digital, text and phone communications, a Democratic strategist in the state acknowledged that at some point, canvassing could significantly pick up.
“Joe Biden won Georgia without a massive door-knocking effort, and the Trump campaign lost while knocking on doors,” said the strategist, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “That said, it is a runoff so voter awareness is lower. Safe door-knocking closer to Jan. 5 may be necessary to win.”