According to Associated Press projections, Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock will defeat his challenger, Republican challenger Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff election.
Although the Senate majority was decided shortly after the midterms, Senator Warnock’s victory was in the final election showdown of the 2022 election season. The win gives the Democrats a slim 51-49 margin in the Senate, along with some breathing room.
“Thank you, Georgia. We did it again,” tweeted Warnock following his projected victory.
In the senator’s victory speech, he noted, “after a hard-fought campaign, or should I say campaigns, it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy — the people have spoken.”
When conceding, Walker emphasized that “we put up one heck of a fight.”
He also told his supporters, “I’m never going to stop fighting for Georgia. I’m never going to stop fighting for you.”
For the second consecutive election cycle, the final battle occurred in Georgia, a critical southeastern battleground state. Just two years ago, the Democrats swept the two Georgia Senate runoffs, giving them the majority. However, in this election, the victory by Warnock gives Democrats control of committees, allowing them to advance nominations and legislation more quickly to the floor of the Senate.
The runoff election was necessary after Warnock led Walker by around 37,000 votes out of the almost 4 million cast in the November midterms since neither candidate passed the 50% vote required by Georgia law to declare a victor, the race headed to a runoff.
According to Georgia state officials, almost two million voters cast ballots in the early round of voting that concluded Friday. Democrats urged their supporters to vote early to give Warnock a head start on Election Day. Walker’s campaign relied heavier on turnout on Election Day.
Senator Warnock outraised Walker dramatically in the runoff campaign. Democratic groups and Warnock outspent GOP groups and Walker by a two-to-one margin when running ads during the runoff showdown.
Walker early frontrunner, then heavily criticized
Herschel Walker won the Heisman trophy as a college football legend leading the University of Georgia to a national championship. He launched his campaign for Senate in the summer of 2021 after encouragement from his longtime friend, former President Donald Trump.
Walker instantly became the frontrunner partly due to his favorable name recognition and legendary status in the state. He easily won the nomination for the GOP in May. However, Walker was quickly a target as the general election campaign began.
The Republican candidate was heavily criticized in ads and, on the campaign trail, took heat for reports he had exaggerated his academic record and the success of his businesses. Democrats accused Walker of “bizarre or false statements.”
Walker was forced to play defense when confronted with accusations of past threats and abuse against his first wife to his acknowledgment of children he fathered outside his marriage which had not been publicly revealed, after criticizing absent fathers for many years. Before the bombshell revelations in September and October, women accused Walker of persuading and paying for their abortions. Walker is staunchly pro-life and has repeatedly denied the allegations.
In Georgia, Democrats once dominated elections. However, the Peach State has been reliably red in the past two decades. However, President Biden captured the state narrowly in the 2020 election.
Republicans swept Georgia’s statewide elections led by GOP Governor Brian Kemp, who comfortably defeated Stacy Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 duel.