The Georgia Senate race heads to a runoff in December
“Groups and donors will spend money on Georgia regardless because it’s an important seat in the Senate, but it’s orders of magnitude more if control of the Senate is at stake,” said one Democratic strategist involved in the Georgia race.
The logistics of the 2022 runoff will look different than in 2021, after Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature passed legislation last year that significantly changed the rules. Most importantly, they shortened the swelling period from nine weeks to four weeks. But it also limited early voting during the runoff and essentially eliminated the ability to register new voters during that period, which Democrats used to great effect in 2021.
The race has been dominated by allegations that Walker, who has said he favors an abortion ban without exceptions, paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion in 2009. Walker has denied the claim, and Republicans have largely rallied behind him, but it has drawn criticism — including and from one of his grown children, Christian Walker – that he was an absentee father.
Warnock, meanwhile, faced claims he improperly used campaign funds to cover legal fees for an unrelated matter.
In a sign of the state’s growing importance in congressional elections, high-profile Democrats and Republicans flocked to Georgia in the final stretch of the campaign, including former President Barack Obama and Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
Both candidates raised hefty sums of money, with Warnock taking in more than $26 million in the third quarter of 2022 and Walker $12 million over the same period. Warnock both outplayed and outplayed Walker.
Warnock, Georgia’s first black senator, was a political newcomer in 2020 and remains so senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former congregation of the late Martin Luther King, where he has been preaching since 2005.
Walker, a former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, was an early supporter of Donald Trump and received the former president’s endorsement early in the race. Trump encouraged Walker to run for the seat, and Walker later welcomed Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. first innocent endorsement of the 2022 cycle.
The outcome of next month’s runoff could have implications beyond the Senate’s control. If Walker wins, it would help reverse the Democrats’ recent gains in Georgia, long a GOP stronghold. A victory in Warnock could help solidify Georgia’s status as a battleground for several upcoming elections.
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