Atlanta, 7 December 2022 (tca/dpa/MIA) — Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Herschel Walker Tuesday in Georgia’s US Senate runoff, securing a 51st seat for Democrats in Congress’ upper chamber, giving the party greater power to push its agenda in the chamber.
Warnock’s victory means Senate Democrats — as long as they vote in unity — will no longer need to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes.
With a GOP-led House, prospects for passing new bipartisan legislation are slim. But the one-seat Senate advantage will also give Democrats greater control over the chamber’s committees.
Warnock, a pastor who made history in 2021 when he was elected Georgia’s first Black senator, also offered Democrats in this longtime conservative Southern state a much-needed morale boost after Republicans dominated here in the midterm election and vanquished one of their star players, gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Warnock’s win confirms Georgia’s position as a key battleground state ahead of the 2024 presidential race and bolsters the argument that Abrams and other Democratic leaders here have pushed for years: that the historic blue wave that saw the state’s voters elect President Joe Biden in 2020 and Warnock and Jon Ossoff in 2021 was not a fluke, but the beginning of a deeper and more sustained movement to flip Georgia blue.
Going into the midterms, Warnock faced a significant challenge in keeping the seat he had won by just 90,000 votes in his 2021 runoff. Polls showed Georgia voters were disillusioned with Biden and the Democratic Party and frustrated about the economy and inflation.
But Walker, a former University of Georgia football star whom former president Donald Trump encouraged to run, was a wild-card candidate who struggled to broaden his support beyond the GOP primary base.
His political inexperience — along with his propensity for gaffes and false claims and his failure to home in on a key message on the campaign trail — led many to question his readiness for office.
Throughout the campaign, the multimillionaire businessman was dogged by scandals, including multiple allegations that he had encouraged and paid for former sexual partners to terminate their pregnancies, despite his support for a national ban on abortion.
Walker also fabricated key details of his education and career, falsely claiming he worked for law enforcement and bragging that he was “in the top 1%” of his college graduating class when he did not graduate.
In contrast, Warnock stuck to a clear message: that Walker was unfit for office. He also positioned himself as more of a practical senator rather than a progressive change maker — a stable centrist willing to work across the aisle to make Georgia a better place.
In his short time in office, Warnock noted, he had written the provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that capped insulin prices for Medicare patients. He also emphasized his support for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which boosted federal funding for Georgia’s roads and bridges, and for the expanded Child Tax Credit, which he hailed as the single largest tax cut for middle- and working-class families in America.