U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will campaign next Tuesday in the southern state of Georgia for two Democratic Senate candidates involved in crucial runoff elections next month that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate during the first two years of Biden’s presidency.
Biden said Thursday he will appear with the candidates -- investigative documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff and clergyman Raphael Warnock -- in Atlanta, the state capital and Georgia’s largest city.
The two Democrats face incumbent Republican lawmakers in the January 5 elections — Ossoff against Sen. David Perdue and Warnock facing Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Polls in the state show both elections are closely contested.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have already campaigned in the state on behalf of Perdue and Loeffler. Pence is making another trip to the state for a Thursday night rally.
Republicans currently hold a 50-48 advantage over Democrats in the U.S. Senate that takes office in early January. They need to win at least one of the two Georgia contests to take outright control, which would give the party a majority on all Senate committees and the right to set the chamber’s agenda.
Democrats need to win both seats for a 50-50 split, which would give Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Democrats and a majority after Biden and Harris are inaugurated on January 20.
Georgia has long been a Republican stronghold, but Democrats have made strong gains in voter registration to turn the state into a political battleground.
After the state’s 5 million votes in last month’s presidential contest were counted three times, Biden defeated Trump by more than 11,000 votes.
Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.