Hollywood Activists Set Sights on Georgia as Senate Control Remains in Limbo

Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images; Megan Varner/Getty Images

Beau Willimon, Billy Eichner and Debra Messing were among the entertainment industry figures urging people to support Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in upcoming runoff elections.

As Joe Biden remains close to clinching the 270 electoral votes to declare victory in the 2020 presidential election, Hollywood activists looking to help Democrats secure control of the Senate have turned their focus to Georgia, which is set to be the site of at least one, if not two, runoff elections in January.

A special election to fill the remainder of retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson's term will require a runoff between the two best-performing candidates, Raphael Warnock and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican appointed to fill Isakson's seat. Votes are still being counted in the Senate race between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, but if neither candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, as required by Georgia law, that race too will be set for a runoff.

Based on AP projections so far, control of the Senate remains deadlocked at 48-48, but Republicans are leading in uncalled races in Alaska and North Carolina.

Stars urging people to support Ossoff and Warnock include Amber Tamblyn, Beau Willimon, Billy Baldwin, Debra Messing, Mandy Moore, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Liz Tigelaar and Common.

Willimon and Baldwin both honored late Georgia congressman and voting-rights activist John Lewis and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, after stars credited her efforts for Biden's performance in Georgia.

"In memory of John Lewis and in honor of Stacey Abrams, and in celebration of the new leads in PA an GA, I am making donations to [Raphael] Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Please join me. Let's continue the momentum and take back the Senate," Willimon tweeted, linking to the websites for both Democratic candidates.

Billy Eichner, who joined Swing Left as a senior adviser in late 2019 to organize volunteers and contact voters in key battleground states, in an effort to help recreate the blue wave that resulted in Democrats taking control of the House majority in the 2018 midterm elections, expressed his dedication to winning both seats in a humorous tweet, writing, "I will go to GA to help win these Senate seats. I will get a Covid test every day. I will live at Tyler Perry’s movie studio. I will get re-bar mitzvah’ed at whichever synagogue Jon Ossoff and his wife attend. We MUST win these Senate seats. I WILL DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE! U in?"

Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, initially attracted Hollywood support during his 2017 campaign against Republican Karen Handel in a special congressional election to replace Trump's first Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price. That race, which ended with Handel's victory, drew national interest and became the most expensive U.S. House race in history.

Jon Stewart also revealed earlier this year that Ossoff's 2017 race partly inspired his latest movie, Irresistible, starring Steve Carell and Rose Byrne as warring campaign managers.

"The incredibly outsize importance placed on this one little race that became emblematic of the future for red and blue," Stewart told the New York Times of Ossoff's 2017 campaign. "The national parties spent $50 million dollars in one district in Georgia on this weird off-year congressional race."

Earlier in the week, Democrats flipped two Senate seats, in Arizona and Colorado, but failed to oust Republicans Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins in high-profile races that attracted support, and donations, from entertainment industry figures. Other closely-watched races in Texas, Alabama, Iowa, Kansas and Montana ended with projected Republican victories.

Stars that supported Kelly, Hickenlooper and Democratic challengers Jaime Harrison and Sara Gideon, based on Federal Election Commission data, included Aidy Bryant, JJ Abrams, Alan Horn, James L. Brooks, Danny DeVito, Steven Spielberg and Chelsea Handler.

Insecure actress and writer Natasha Rothwell also urged those hoping Democrats would flip the Senate not to give up hope, pointing out that in addition to the runoffs, the Alaska Senate seat held by Dan Sullivan, being sought by Democrat Al Gross, remained in play.

"Can we talk about Alaska? With only 56% of estimated votes reported, Al Gross could still win, and Georgia is still in play with Ossoff and Warnock runoff’s. We don’t even need all three to take the senate (with Kamala [Harris] to break the tie). What I’m saying is, let’s finish the job," she wrote.