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A 20-year-old campaign staffer for Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler died Friday morning in a highway crash just before Vice President Mike Pence arrived in the state to stump for Loeffler and fellow Georgia Sen. David Perdue.
Harrison Deal, a former intern for Perdue, was also a family friend of Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who described him in a statement as “the Kemp son and brother we never had.”
Deal was killed on I-16 in Pooler, Ga., outside Savannah, where Pence spoke Friday afternoon. It’s unclear if the young aide was performing campaign duties at the time of the accident.
Loeffler and Perdue face a Jan. 5 runoff election against Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
The outcome of the runoffs will dictate control of the Senate next year. Republicans will hold at least 50 seats in January, but if they lose both races, the Senate will be divided 50-50 and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break ties.
Pence said during a speech in Savannah that Deal, who is not believed to be related to the governor, was a “truly wonderful young man.”
Deal was due to graduate from the University of Georgia in 2022.
Loeffler did not attend the Pence rally due to the tragedy.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Harrison Deal,” Loeffler said in a statement.
“My heart aches for his family, and Jeff and I will continue to surround them in love and prayer in the days ahead. Harrison was a beloved member of our campaign team. More importantly, Harrison was a smart, bright, loving, loyal and outstanding young man.”
Loeffler said that Deal “embodied the very best of this campaign – and the very best of our state. We will forever cherish and honor Harrison’s memory, and I ask every Georgian to join us in praying for his family during this difficult time.”
President Trump is scheduled to visit the state on Saturday for an evening rally at Valdosta Regional Airport near the Florida border.