Republicans turn their attention to Senate fights in Georgia.
With one contentious intraparty Senate battle behind them in Alabama, Republicans are now looking next door to Georgia, where President Trump is scheduled to visit on Wednesday and meet with the two Senate candidates fighting for his supporters even as his own political standing in the state appears shakier than ever.
Georgia has started drifting away from Mr. Trump in recent weeks, the latest sign of how imperiled his re-election hopes are — and how his unpopularity is endangering his party’s chances of holding onto the Senate. In 2016, he won the state by five percentage points. But a series of recent polls have shown that a tight race is developing between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Some polls, including one released by Fox News late last month, show Mr. Biden beating the president in the state.
The fact that Mr. Trump would feel the need to visit to Georgia, where he will deliver remarks on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure in Atlanta, instead of one of the states he so narrowly won in 2016, is further evidence of how his mishandling of the coronavirus and failure to alleviate the country’s anger over racial inequality have left him vulnerable.
The backdrop for Mr. Trump’s visit is a fight between two Republicans who are competing for the Senate seat that was held by Johnny Isakson until his retirement late last year. Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the vacancy, has to stand for election this year. But Representative Doug Collins, who represents the northern part of the state in Congress, is running against her.
Ms. Loeffler is backed by the Republican leadership but has baggage: She faces questions about stock trades she made soon after being briefed about the threat of the virus. Mr. Collins, who has been an ally to the president as a House member, has pitched himself as the candidate who would be most faithful to Mr. Trump’s agenda. The president has not made an endorsement in the race.
Then there is the matter of Georgia’s other senator, David Perdue, who is also up for re-election. His seat was once considered safe, but Republican strategists say they are increasingly worried about losing to the Democratic nominee, Jon Ossoff.
Mr. Biden, who has been unusually open about his search for a running mate, said in a new interview that he was “getting closer” to finding one, shedding fresh light on his time frame.
“The background checks that have been done are coming to a conclusion within the next week to 10 days,” he said in an interview with 12 News, a Phoenix TV station, that aired Tuesday. He and his team, he said, will “narrow down the list, and then interview those folks that are left on the list.”
Mr. Biden has said he hopes to announce a running mate by early August.
He said in the 12 News interview that he was looking for someone who “shares the same value set I have and is going to be an ally in making sure that we get things done.”
Here’s a list of contenders thought to be under consideration.
In the interview, and in another he gave to a CBS affiliate in Charlotte, Mr. Biden — who has faced criticism over his work on the 1994 crime bill, which many experts associate with increased mass incarceration — also defended his record, while calling for the police to be held to a higher standard now.
Asked in the Phoenix interview how his thinking on crime had changed since the 1990s, Mr. Biden replied: “Well, it hasn’t changed a whole lot in the sense that I don’t think we should be defunding police departments. I think we should be holding police departments responsible.”
But he said that the nation, rocked all summer by an outcry over police brutality and racism, needed a “wake-up call” to end racial injustice and overhaul the criminal justice system.
“There’s a lot we’ve learned,” he said. “It’s important that we make sure that we have decency and honor in the way in which we conduct our politics and conduct policing.”
A Republican congressman was charged with voter fraud.
Representative Steve Watkins, Republican of Kansas, was charged with three felonies related to voter fraud on Tuesday, shortly before a televised debate in which he dismissed the accusations involving a municipal election as a political move.
The district attorney of Shawnee County, Mike Kagay, charged Mr. Watkins with three felonies: interference with law enforcement by providing false information, voting without being qualified and unlawful advance voting. Mr. Watkins was also charged with failing to notify the state motor vehicle agency of a change of address, a misdemeanor.
During the primary debate on Tuesday night, Mr. Watkins, a first-term representative, said that he had accidentally put his mailing address instead of his physical address on his voter registration form and that he had corrected the error as soon as he became aware of it.
He said the charges were an attempt to undermine his credibility in the upcoming election.
“This is clearly hyper-political,” Mr. Watkins said. “It comes out moments before our first debate and three weeks before the election. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Mr. Trump and other Republican officials have claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting could create opportunities for fraudulent election results in November. But election experts agree that voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States.
Jeff Sessions spent his final days on the campaign trail reiterating his support for President Trump’s agenda, reminding voters of his efforts to curb illegal immigration while attorney general and emphasizing how, as a senator, he had endorsed Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign at a time when few others in Washington would.
But in the end, it wasn’t enough. And in truth, after Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Sessions’s opponent, it probably never was.
On Tuesday, Mr. Sessions fell far short in the Alabama Senate Republican runoff election to Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach whose platform was largely a blanket promise to support the president at all times. Mr. Tuberville celebrated the results that evening at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery.
“People in Alabama voted against Jeff Sessions because Donald Trump told them to,” said Angi Stalnaker, a Republican strategist in Alabama. “If it had been Donald Trump saying, ‘Go write in Mickey Mouse,’ 50 percent of them would have gone to write in Mickey Mouse.”
“They wanted to please the president,” Ms. Stalnaker said. “This was never about Tommy Tuberville.”
Just seven votes separate the candidates in a Texas House runoff.
Republicans won’t know their nominee for a sprawling Southwest Texas House district for some time, after Tuesday’s runoff left Tony Gonzales and Raul Reyes separated by just seven votes.
Mr. Gonzales, who was endorsed by Mr. Trump, led Mr. Reyes, who is backed by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, with all 335 precincts reporting results.
It will likely be a while before the race can be called: In Texas, absentee ballots can arrive by mail as late as 5 p.m. the day after an election. And the margin is certain to be close enough that whichever candidate trails can request a recount.
Any delay in declaring a Republican winner is not likely to be helpful in the party’s chances to retain a seat being vacated by Representative Will Hurd, who did not seek re-election to a fourth term.
Democrats have viewed the district as one of their best opportunities to win a Republican-held seat. Their candidate, Gina Ortiz Jones, who lost to Mr. Hurd by 926 votes in 2018, is running again in the sprawling district, which covers all or parts of 29 counties between San Antonio and El Paso.
Trump made false claims on a variety of subjects yesterday.
In a rambling, campaign-style appearance in the Rose Garden at the White House and in an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, Mr. Trump ranged across many topics, sprinkling questionable assertions throughout his remarks. Here’s a closer look:
Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the former White House physician with no political experience who ran a campaign based on his close relationship with Mr. Trump, won a Republican runoff election for a House seat in Texas on Tuesday night, effectively stamping his ticket to Congress next year.
Dr. Jackson’s victory in the 13th Congressional District was hailed by the Trump campaign, which had helped prop him up.
It was something of a comeback for Dr. Jackson, a retired Navy rear admiral who left the West Wing in December after becoming Mr. Trump’s unlikely choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. He withdrew his name from consideration amid allegations related to his professional conduct.
After moving home to Texas, Dr. Jackson hoped to make a fresh start, running in a crowded Republican primary to replace the retiring Representative Mac Thornberry.
Dr. Jackson made a series of novice mistakes that could have derailed any congressional campaign. He relied on a “horse doctor” with a full-time job to run his campaign. His wife, Jane, doubled as his chauffeur, and she even took on the job of putting up lawn signs and replacing them after they were defaced. Before the coronavirus struck, the couple wasted hours knocking on doors during work hours, when no one was home. And they agreed to attend events where the majority of the crowd was from neighboring Oklahoma and couldn’t vote for Dr. Jackson.
But after Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, his girlfriend and a top fund-raising official for the president’s re-election campaign, realized that Dr. Jackson’s campaign was in trouble, they asked senior members of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign to step in. The campaign helped with logistical support that fueled Dr. Jackson’s improved fund-raising.
Reporting was contributed by Evan Nicole Brown, Reid J. Epstein, Katie Glueck, Annie Karni, Jeremy W. Peters, Elaina Plott and Will Wright.