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Why the two GA Senate run-off elections matter to the future of vaping

Regardless of which side of the political conversation vapers happen to fall, the 2020 elections have often been stressful, at times anger-inducing, and perhaps a little bit painful.  As the arduous task of vote counting began to unfold on Tuesday night, signs began to emerge almost immediately of a very tight race. 

Polls in states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada caused uncertainty for the next four days until the mainstream media finally proclaimed Saturday morning that Democrat Joe Biden is the apparent winner.  But the goings-on in Georgia are of particular interest – especially to the vaping community – because the control of the Senate hangs in the balance.

Related Article:  What is Joe Biden’s view on vaping?

As of this writing, there are an equal number of democrat versus republican senators at 48 each with four races still undecided.  Of those four races, Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan currently holds a substantial lead over democratic opponent Al Gross.  Meanwhile, North Carolina’s incumbent senator – republican Thom Tillis – is maintaining a slight 1.7 percent lead over Democratic opponent Cal Cunningham.  Most political pundits expect both races to fall to the republicans once all the votes are counted.

Georgia’s 50 percent rule

That leaves Georgia, where, strangely, both senate seats are up from grabs.  Just as the state’s vote count for the presidential election remains too close to call, so goes the two senate races.   For the first seat, republican incumbent David Perdue is running against media darling Jon Ossoff where the percentages are tight but favoring Perdue. 

In the second race, over twenty candidates are battling one other, two of which are current republican incumbents – Kelly Loeffler is the sitting senator in that district and Doug Collins its currently elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  But it is democrat Raphael Warnock who is currently locking up the majority of the votes.

Related Article:  Senator ‘Dick’ Durbin demands publication of FDA’s PMTA list for vaping

Here’s the thing.  In Georgia, there is a weird law that says the designated winner of any federal election must win at least 50 percent of the total votes cast.  With Perdue and Ossoff stuck at below 50 percent each and Warnock hovering at around 33 percent statewide, Georgia law will likely dictate that both seats head for a run-off

If this happens – which looks increasingly likely -  then the top two candidates in each race will be forced to compete in a special election next January. If the democrats can win both races, then control of the senate will flip from Republican to Democrat.  Both parties will have 50 senators each, but the tie-breaker will be a democratic Vice President Kamala Harris who will simultaneously act as President of the Senate.

Why should the vaping community care about who controls the senate?

The Senate wields enormous power over the President of the United States.  A POTUS-friendly Senate can make the confirmation process of potential Supreme Court Justices quick and painless while a Senate controlled by the opposing party can kill these presidential nominations in their tracks. 

Related Article:  Senate confirms new FDA Chief Hahn despite unclear views on the future of vaping

But it is not just Supreme Court Justices who must achieve Senate confirmation.  Biden’s entire cabinet will be dully affected, which may be why the President-Elect is currently remaining tight-lipped about whom he might pick for specific posts.  One of those cabinet positions will be the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 

The DHHS Secretary oversees the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose Commissioner must also be senate-approved.  Since the FDA is responsible for regulation of the vaping industry, the people whom Biden selects to run both the DHHS and the FDA will be crucial.

Vaping-related laws and confirmations

Now, generally speaking, Republicans tend to dislike government overregulation of any kind.  Most republicans are largely in favor of less restrictions over vaping, although not always.  Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, for example, is a vocal advocate of flavored vaping bans, and the majority of democrats tend to side with Romney on this issue in particular.   

Should the senate remain in republican control, then President-Elect Biden will be forced to put forth more conservative picks for his cabinet posts – people whom the Republicans are more likely to confirm.  If Georgia voters select two democrats in both senate runoff elections in January, then Democrats will control the senate, and Biden can theoretically nominate anyone that he likes to the FDA and the DHHS without fear or worry of being rejected. 

Related Article:  Is vaping the reason that Trump abruptly fired Surgeon General Murthy?

Biden could appoint someone like former Attorney General Vivek Murthy, for example, who is staunchly anti-vaping.  Coincidentally, Biden just announced this weekend that Murthy will be a member of his presidential COVID-19 task force.

Maintaining republican control in the Senate will have numerous legislative advantages, as well.  With Senator Mitch McConnel remaining in the Majority Leader position, the chances of anti-vaping bills previously approved by a democrat-controlled House of Representatives making their way to the desk of a President Biden are almost zero. 

Yes, the 2020 presidential elections have been exhausting.  Many within the vaping community just want this madness to end.  But it’s so important for vapers to remain vigilant in the years-long fight to ban vaping.  If the Democrats can flip those two senate run-off seats in Georgia, , things could get very, very ugly….very, very quickly.

Related Article:  NYT: Trump to announce flavor ban; open-system vaping might be okay

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