Early voting begins in some Georgia counties as Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker sprint to December 6 runoff



In some Georgia counties, an early week-long voting period begins Saturday as Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker enter a week-and-a-half sprint after Thanksgiving for their Dec. 6 runoff election.

Unlike the 2021 runoff, control of the Senate is not at stake as the Democrats have already won 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris has given the party a casting vote.

However, the stakes remain high: a victory in Warnock would give the Democrats an outright majority, rather than requiring the power-sharing deal now in effect. Democrats would have the majority on committees, making it easier for them to push through President Joe Biden’s candidates.

Georgia’s Supreme Court handed Warnock a victory on Wednesday, allowing counties to vote early Saturday. Democrats said they expected as many as 22 counties to do so — some in densely populated areas around Atlanta, including DeKalb and Fulton, as well as Chatham County, home to Savannah.

That ruling followed a legal battle sparked by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s interpretation of the 2021 voting law. He said the new law restricts voting on weekends immediately after holidays.

That 2021 law halved the timeline for runoff elections to four weeks, and limited the early voting period to a minimum of five days instead of the 16-day minimum that was in effect when Democrats won two Senate rounds in the state in January 2021.

As many as 22 of the state’s 159 counties allowed voters to cast their ballots on Saturday.

At a polling station in Atlanta, Boston College student Emma Demilio said she probably wouldn’t have been able to vote in person if the early voting sites hadn’t been opened.

“This is about the only time I’m in Georgia and can vote. I’m leaving tomorrow so I was really happy to get it in,” she said, adding that she may have tried to fight for an absentee ballot.

Warnock continues to beat Walker as they head into the final stretch.

Warnock raised nearly $52.2 million from Oct. 20 to Nov. 16, a period spanning the end of the general election and roughly the first week of the runoff. Walker amassed $20.9 million during that time, according to his campaign’s filings with the Federal Election Commission. Warnock ended the period with more than $29.7 million in the bank, more than three times the $9.8 million left in his rival’s coffers.

Warnock is about to land a top Democratic surrogate: Former President Barack Obama will travel to Atlanta on Thursday for a rally ahead of the final day of early voting.

So far, Obama is the only past or present president to visit Georgia ahead of the second round.

Neither President Joe Biden, whom Walker’s campaign has tried to tie Warnock to, nor former President Donald Trump, who was in office when Republicans lost two Senate rounds two years ago, have planned any trips to the state. On Saturday, Warnock appeared with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) at a rally in Sandy Springs, just outside of Atlanta.

Trump allies, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have been out in force for Walker, the former president himself not campaigning with the candidate he recruited.

Other Republicans, meanwhile, are rallying around Walker, with the Senate Leadership Fund, the super-PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, pumping more than $10 million into the race since the general election.

In addition to the new influx of outside spending, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who was running for re-election earlier this month, appeared on the trail with Walker for the first time after stiffly arming the former football great all fall.

Kemp defeated a primary challenger backed by Trump in May, then defeated Walker by more than 200,000 votes in the general election — a sign of both his crossover appeal to moderate Democrats and Walker’s difficulties consolidating Republicans.

Still, Democrats said they doubt Kemp could save Walker in a runoff election in which Walker is the only Republican on the ballot.

“There are a lot of people who voted for Raphael Warnock and Brian Kemp,” said Jason Carter, the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

He called Warnock a “unique figure” and noted that he “got more votes than Herschel Walker and he got more votes than any other Democrat.”

“People value him. And they think of him first as Raphael Warnock, and second as his political party and all that other stuff,” Carter said.

A new potential second-round flashpoint emerged on Wednesday. Georgia’s Supreme Court has also reinstated the state’s six-week abortion ban in a separate legal battle.

It was a policy victory for the Republicans who enacted and defended that ban in court, but one that could come at a political cost, reviving backlash over the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, boosting Democrats and swinging moderate voters in. their favor en route to a surprisingly strong performance by the party in this year’s midterm elections.

According to CNN’s exit polls, 28% of Georgia voters during the midterm elections said abortion was the most important issue in their vote — second only to inflation at 37%.

Of those who saw abortion as the most important issue, 77% supported Warnock, compared to 21% who voted for Walker – a reversal of inflation, an issue favoring Walker by a margin of 45 percentage points.

Fifty-three percent of Georgia voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 75% of those voters supported Warnock. Of the 43% who said it should be illegal in all or most cases, 87% supported Walker.

Both sides have already pumped more than $40 million into television advertising in the second round. Democratic groups spent nearly $25 million, while GOP groups spent nearly $16 million, according to AdImpact, the ad tracking company.

In an effort to unify Republican factions, a Walker super-PAC sends out mailers touting Kemp’s support and trying to tie Warnock to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. “You stopped Stacey. Reject Warnock now,” they read.

“Who do you want to fight for in the United States Senate? Do you want a man who represents our values, like Herschel Walker, or do you want a man who stands with Joe Biden 96% of the time?” Kemp, who borrowed a well-known attack from Walker, said at a rally last weekend in Cobb County. .

Kemp also repeats that line of attack in a new television commercial launched by SLF. The governor and McConnell’s group are also working together to get the vote. SLF is boosting Kemp’s state operation, set up to help Walker, with a $2 million cash infusion.

Warnock’s campaign is also trying to win over Republicans who actually prefer Kemp over Trump.

A new ad from the Warnock campaign features a woman who says she voted for Kemp this year and describes herself as a lifelong Republican, but goes on to say she will not support Walker in the second round because of his “lack of character.”

Warnock has also campaigned in what should be Walker’s safest territory: his hometown. At an event in Wrightsville, where Walker played his high school football, Warnock asked voters to separate the sports hero from the political candidate.

“I saw what your favorite son did on the football field. I don’t mind giving credit where credit is due. That brother can blind you on that soccer field. He created a lot of excitement and did a lot for the great University of Georgia. And he deserves credit for that,” Warnock said. “But tonight we’re on a different field.”

At the same time, the Republican faced some backlash over an ad of its own — alongside University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who has previously appeared with Walker and competed with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who became a center of discussion over the participation of trans women. in sports and has often been attacked in conservative media.

“For more than ten years I worked so hard. Four o’clock in the morning practice to be the best. But in my senior year, I had to compete against a biological man,” Gaines says in the ad.

The spot was released in the days after a gunman allegedly targeted the LGBTQ community at a Colorado gay club. One of the five killed was a trans man.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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