While it’s pretty clear there are four distinct candidates for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seat, there’s still another person lurking just off the touchscreen: President Donald J. Trump. And if you don’t believe it, just take a quick ride up to North Georgia.

Welcome mat at the Trump store in Ellijay. The store is open 7 days a week, but closed until afternoon on Sundays.

Gilmer County sits in the middle of North Georgia, and it’s the home of Republicans Georgia House Speaker Rep. David Ralston and U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde of the 9th District. Clyde’s campaign signs feature the outline of an automatic weapon. He’s the owner of two gun stores and succeeded Doug Collins in that seat. The county borders the 14th District, newly represented by QAnon fan and outspoken Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Taylor Greene made news Sunday during her own U. S. Capitol swearing-in ceremony as she got into a shouting match over wearing a mask. Based on the will of the local residents over the years, it’s clear the area has a sharp tilt toward conservative politics.

The Trump Store in Ellijay.

And if you aren’t completely convinced on that point, you will be reassured by the door mat at the Trump Store, located in an Ellijay strip mall just behind the McDonald’s and next door to a home decor store. The mat, a large red industrial one, is printed with big white letters: 0% LIBERAL. A truck in the grocery store lot also carries a sticker: NOT A LIBERAL.

(In case you were wondering, the Trump Store is one of several official and unofficial outlets for pro-president paraphernalia around the country, including Myrtle Beach, Dallas and Panama City, Fla. The one in Ellijay carries just about anything you’d want with the president’s name on it, as well as “Trump 2020 F$# Your Feelings” beer glasses and coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, stickers, earrings, kids apparel, flags and other items imprinted with Confederate flags and gun-rights slogans.)

There are other signs, too, one antiques and collectibles store downtown has one in the window and there’s another more-subtle approach inside at a booth selling old signage and metalware.

All that said, there are actual campaign signs along the North Georgia highways for actual candidates for Senate.

While Ga 515 aka Zell Miller Mountain Parkway was lined with Trump signs of all types long after the Nov. 3, most of those are now gone. Small roadside signs for GOP candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler sit in small clusters at some busy intersections, usually matched equally with signs for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Intermittent driveways have signs for one or the other, but the larger signs remain for Trump, attached to houses and fences and nailed up in random trees along the four-lane strips.

So if anyone tells you Donald J. Trump lost his bid for a second term and isn’t running for Senate, you may assure them he’s not on the ballot but he’s very much in the race.

— Susan Catron