Raphael Warnock beats Herschel, wins last battle of US midterms in Georgia, hands Senate control to Democrats
The vote brings to a close a bitter fight between Warnock, the state’s first black senator and the senior minister of the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King jnr preached, and Walker, a former University of Georgia football star and political novice who has campaigned with the support of Trump.
A Warnock victory solidifies Georgia’s status as a battleground heading into the 2024 presidential election.
Last month, Walker, 60, ran more than 200,000 votes behind Republican Governor Brian Kemp after a campaign dogged by his meandering campaign speeches and damaging allegations, including claims that he paid for two former girlfriends’ abortions — accusations that Walker has denied.
Atlanta voter Tom Callaway praised the Republican Party’s strength in Georgia and said he’d supported Kemp in the opening round of voting. But he cast his ballot Tuesday for Warnock because he doesn’t think “Herschel Walker has the credentials to be a senator”.
“I didn’t believe he had a statement of what he really believed in or had a campaign that made sense,” Callaway said.
Warnock, whose 2021 victory was in a special election to serve out the remainder of GOP Senator Johnny Isakson’s term, says he’s convinced enough voters, including independents and moderate Republicans who supported Kemp and deserves a full term.
“I think they’re going to get this right,” the 53-year-old senator said Monday. “They know this race is about competence and character.”
Walker campaigned Monday with his wife, Julie, greeting supporters and offering thanks rather than his usual campaign speech and attacks on Warnock.
“I love y’all, and we’re gonna win this election,” he said at a winery in Ellijay, comparing the election to his athletic success. “I love winning championships.
Walker, who used his athletic fame to coast to the GOP nomination, has sought to portray Warnock as a yes-man for President Joe Biden. He has sometimes made the attack in especially personal terms, accusing Warnock of “being on his knees, begging” at the White House — a searing charge for a black challenger to level against a black senator about his relationship with a white president.
A multimillionaire businessman, Walker has inflated his philanthropic activities and business achievements, including claiming that his company employed hundreds of people and grossed tens of millions of dollars in sales annually, even though later records indicate he had eight employees and averaged about $US1.5 million a year. He has suggested that he’s worked as a law enforcement officer and said he graduated college, though he has done neither.
Walker was also forced to acknowledge during the campaign that he had fathered three children out of wedlock whom he had never before spoken about publicly — in conflict with his yearslong criticism of absentee fathers and his calls for black men, in particular, to play an active role in their kids’ lives.
His ex-wife said Walker once held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. He has never denied those specifics and wrote of his violent tendencies in a 2008 memoir that attributed the behavior to mental illness.