Warnock and Walker are headed to a runoff in the Georgia Senate race
ATLANTA – The race between Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, a Democrat, and his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, will continue into a runoff in December, The Associated Press said on Wednesday, with no candidate crossing the 50 percent threshold for outright victory.
The result adds even more uncertainty to a race that both parties see as key to deciding control of the US Senate.
With more than 95 per cent of ballots counted on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Warnock had 49.4 per cent of the vote and Mr Walker 48.5 per cent. About 35,000 votes divided the two candidates.
Mr. Walker, a political newcomer with considerable personal baggage, ran a hyperconservative campaign with thinly-veiled political agendas and heavy appeals on social and cultural issues.
Mr. Warnock, who is also senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, campaigned largely on his work over the past two years in the Senate. He emphasized the legislation he co-authored with Republican senators and his party’s policies that win for low-income Georgians and those 65 and older.
Both easily won the primaries.
Georgia’s new election law shortened the runoff period to four weeks, forcing voter mobilization campaigns and coordinating events during Thanksgiving and the first weeks of the holiday season. That means Georgia voters will continue to face an onslaught of political ads during the next month of campaigning, which is likely to bring more visits from dignitaries from both parties. Campaigns will be extended, working to get voters back out after two long and contested election cycles this year.
The pageant will also keep the spotlight on two black candidates of different backgrounds and political sensibilities. Mr. Walker is a former athlete who has criticized the Democrats, accusing them of using race to divide “a great country full of generous people”.
Mr. Warnock now preaches from the pulpit once held by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where he delivers messages about systemic racism and preaches eulogies to black victims of police brutality.
Mr. Warnock and allied Democratic groups have spent millions of dollars on advertising to raise allegations of domestic violence against Mr. Walker. Democrats reviewed several videos of Mr. Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, recounting instances in which she said Mr. Walker became physically violent with her and threatened to end her life.
But those accusations did not disrupt the general election campaign of Mr. Walker, backed by unwavering support from Georgia’s staunchly conservative base. For conservatives who were concerned about Mr. Walker, a parade of visits from national Republican figures, including Senators Rick Scott, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, convinced many in the party that Mr. Walker to be, above all, a reliable Republican vote in the US Senate.
Mr. Walker has also repeatedly tried to align Mr. Warnock with President Biden and national Democrats on issues such as the economy and crime, suggesting that Mr. Warnock’s re-election would only worsen the country’s economic problems and make Georgia’s cities less safe.
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