Georgia runoff: full steam ahead for Democrats as they aim to solidify Senate majority | Georgia


A marathon election campaign enters its final sprint on Tuesday as voters in Georgia determine the final seat in the U.S. Senate — shaping the next phase of Joe Biden’s presidency.

Opinion polls suggest incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock has a slight lead over his Republican challenger, former American football star Herschel Walker.

Victory for Warnock would give Democrats 51 seats in the 100-seat Senate, a stronger hand than they currently have in an evenly split chamber where Vice President Kamala Harris calls the tiebreaker.

It is the second time in two years that a Georgia Senate race has reached a runoff because neither candidate won a majority on Election Day. But the Peach State is showing little sign of election fatigue with officials reporting record early turnout.

National and state Democrats are also not slowing down in supporting Warnock. Last week featured celebrity-led events, including a concert by the Dave Matthews Band, recruiting with actresses Tessa Thompson and America Ferrera, and a gathering focused on Georgia’s Asian-American community with Jeannie Mai Jenkins and Daniel Dae Kim.

Warnock, pastor of the former church of Martin Luther King, ended the week with a rally in Atlanta led by the party’s biggest star, Barack Obama. “I’m here to tell you we can’t give up,” the ex-president said after taking the stage to cheers and chants. “I’m here to tell you we can’t delay. We cannot be complacent. We need to go through the tape. And I know you can because you did it before.

Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock campaigns in Savannah, Georgia. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

The event felt like a Baptist sermon, as almost every sentence the former president uttered had the crowd cheering and responding with “yes,” “okay,” and “come on,” squarely squaring Georgia’s geography in the Deep South into the Bible illustrates Belt.

Obama is liberated, feisty and sardonic on the midterm campaign trail, weeding out Republicans in a way few Democrats can. He said: “Since I was last here, Mr. Walker has spoken on issues of great concern to the people of Georgia. Like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf. This is a discussion I, I must confess, once had myself. When I was seven. Then I grew up.”

He added, “In case you’re wondering, by the way, Mr. Walker decided he wanted to be a werewolf. Which is great. As far as I’m concerned, he can be anything he wants to be, except a US Senator.”

While Florida turns Republican red, Georgia is emerging as one of the country’s most critical swing states. Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump there in 2020 propelled him to the White House. Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff won Senate seats in January 2021 after a runoff election, putting their party in control of the chamber.

Obama touted the ability of Georgians to influence the national political landscape, achieving post-2020 successes such as infrastructure spending, gun safety legislation, prescription drug price reductions and record investment in clean energy. “It was because of you, Georgia. And now we need you to do it again.

Democrats hope Obama’s intervention will re-energize the party base. Ashley Davis, a student who attended the meeting, said, “I’m ready. I’ve been recruiting since the beginning of the election, and I also do phone banking. I feel empowered by that speech because it is so true. We can’t stop because we know what’s at stake. Georgia is ready and we have shown that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Biden, on the other hand, has stayed away out of concern that he might interfere with Warnock. Instead, he’s trying to help the campaign from afar, a strategy that’s proven successful in the interim as Democrats defied expectations.

On Friday, the president joined a telephone bank of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Boston, Massachusetts, to help Warnock’s campaign and was a stark contrast to Walker. “This is not a referendum on Warnock,” he said. “This is a choice – a choice between two men… Someone doesn’t deserve to sit in the United States Senate based on their truthfulness and what they said and what they didn’t say. The other man is a really, really decent, honorable man.

Republicans won every other state race in Georgia last month. Governor Brian Kemp, who won re-election, has now thrown himself behind Walker. A strong turnout on Election Day from the party’s voters could still push the ex-footballer to victory.

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker campaigns in Warner Robins, Georgia.
Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker campaigns in Warner Robins, Georgia. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

But Walker has proven to be a motivator for Democratic enthusiasm because he is endorsed by Trump, has no political pedigree, and has made a series of weird and wild statements. A flyer sent home by the Democratic Party of Georgia asks, “How embarrassed would you be if Herschel Walker were your senator?”

Walker’s campaign was plagued by allegations that he had a history of abusing girlfriends and paying for their abortions, undermining his anti-abortion stance. Recently, he has faced claims that he has his primary residence in Texas, not Georgia. Walker has denied the allegations.

Warnock narrowly trailed Walker in the November 8 election by 49.44% to 48.49%. An Emerson College Polling/The Hill poll of Georgia voters found Warnock had 49% support and Walker had 47%, with 4% undecided.

John Zogby, an author and pollster, said: “Warnock must have gained some sort of momentum from Nov. 8, because black voters seem to have more energy and they’re not going along with Herschel Walker.

“Walker had a number of issues that he has been dealing with since November 8 and he has not handled them properly. Even with Kemp’s help, which can be significant, voters ultimately don’t vote for who the governor wants them to vote for: they vote for the candidate.”

While Democrats have already guaranteed control of the Senate for another two years, a true 51-seat majority would speed up the confirmation process for Biden’s administrative and judicial nominees and provide the president with a buffer if Democrats go against the party line.

In addition, Democrats would gain more seats and funding on Senate committees, and committee chairs would no longer need Republican support to issue subpoenas during investigations.

Biden told reporters last month, “It’s always better with 51 because we’re in a situation where you don’t have to have an even composition of the committees. And that is why it is especially important. But it’s just better. The bigger the numbers, the better.”

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said, “It makes a big difference because the Democrats would get a majority on almost all committees. Court nominations are moving fast, fast, fast because as a clear majority party in the Senate you get much easier access to the floor.

“Also look at how many old senators there are… If there is an empty seat and people are mad at Biden, they could end up voting Republican in any purple state.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
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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