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The leading candidates in the 2020 Georgia special Senate race include (from left) the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat; GOP Rep. Doug Collins; and Republican Kelly Loeffler, the incumbent. (AP) The leading candidates in the 2020 Georgia special Senate race include (from left) the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat; GOP Rep. Doug Collins; and Republican Kelly Loeffler, the incumbent. (AP)

The leading candidates in the 2020 Georgia special Senate race include (from left) the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat; GOP Rep. Doug Collins; and Republican Kelly Loeffler, the incumbent. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher October 31, 2020

If Your Time is short

  • With candidates from all parties in the special election, the two leading Republicans have attacked each other.
  • The incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, and Rep. Doug Collins both contend they are more conservative.

  • We’ve also fact-checked an attack by the leading Democrat, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, on Loeffler.

If for no other reason than numbers, the special election for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia is uniquely competitive.

Amazingly, 21 names are on the Nov. 3 ballot, in a race that is open to candidates from all parties. Each candidate is seeking the seat held by Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who resigned in December 2019 with health problems. 

The race’s outcome could help determine whether Republicans keep a majority in the Senate, where they now control 53 seats.

Republican Kelly Loeffler was appointed to the seat on an interim basis. Her chief rivals include GOP Rep. Doug Collins and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, an Atlanta pastor and Democrat making his first run for public office.

Warnock is leading, according to Real Clear Politics’ polling average. But if none of the candidates gets at least 50% of the vote, a Jan. 5 runoff election between the top two vote-getters will decide. 

The race is one of 18 pivotal House and Senate contests up for election Nov. 3 that PolitiFact is tracking. It’s rated a tossup by the Cook Political Report.

(For good measure, so is Georgia’s other Senate contest, which pits Republican incumbent David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff.)

Warnock, for the most part, has stayed away from attacking his competitors. Loeffler and Collins, meanwhile, have gone after Warnock as well as each other, sometimes arguing over which of them is more conservative.

Here’s a look at our coverage.

Warnock attacks Loeffler: Warnock claimed that Loeffler, when she heard about COVID-19, "focused on her own portfolio" and "profited from the pandemic." Our rating was Half True.

Loeffler’s disclosure reports and news reports show that on the day she received a private coronavirus briefing and in the weeks weeks afterward, there were stock trades made on her behalf involving companies that would be affected by the pandemic, and she benefited from those trades. 

Loeffler denied using inside information, and Senate Ethics Committee and Justice Department investigations found she did not violate laws or Senate rules barring insider trading.

Loeffler attacks Collins: Loeffler claimed in an ad that Collins "repeatedly joined liberal Stacey Abrams to raise taxes...Kelly’s never voted for a tax increase — and never will." Loeffler was referring to Collins’ time with Abrams, a Democrat, in the Georgia legislature. We rated that Mostly False

Loeffler’s ad cited Collins’ vote on a piece of transportation legislation, which the ad called "the greatest tax increase in Georgia history."

But as the legislation was originally written, it did not raise taxes per se. Instead, it allowed Georgia residents to vote on whether to adopt a tax. 

As to Loeffler’s past position on tax increases, we found that before she held public office, she publicly supported a regional transportation tax, saying it was necessary to create jobs. 

Collins attacks Loeffler: Collins claimed Loeffler has a "long history of donating to abortion-on-demand Democrats." Our rating was Mostly False.

Since 2006, of the more than $2 million in political contributions made by Loeffler, $16,600 has gone to Democrats or liberal causes, the rest to Republicans and conservative causes.

The relatively little money Loeffler has given to Democrats doesn’t prove a connection to supporting abortion rights.

Loeffler has been endorsed in the special election by the National Right to Life Committee and other anti-abortion groups.

Loeffler’s claim to conservatism: We also examined Loeffler’s claim that she is "more conservative than Attila the Hun."

Her claim was made in a lighthearted way in a TV ad, so we didn’t put it on the Truth-O-Meter, but her message about being the more conservative candidate was serious. She cited ratings pegging her as a top conservative, while Collins has cited her support of Democrats and Democratic causes. Historian Hyun Jin Kim, a professor of classics at the University of Melbourne in Australia and author of "The Huns," told us Attila was neither a conservative nor liberal by modern standards: "By Hunnic standards, Attila was a more or less traditional ruler." His top achievements were murdering and plundering.

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