Democrat Warnock, Trump-backed Walker in tight U.S. Senate runoff
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[December 06, 2022]
By Nathan Layne
ATLANTA (Reuters) -A Tuesday runoff election in Georgia between
Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican former football
star Herschel Walker will determine whether President Joe Biden's party
can expand its razor-thin majority in the Senate.
The race will also serve as a final test of Donald Trump's clout with
midterm election voters as he seeks the Republican nomination to
challenge Biden in 2024. The former president had a mixed record in his
most competitive endorsements for Congress, including Walker.
Walker's campaign has been plagued by a variety of allegations,
including claims he has called untrue by former girlfriends who said he
encouraged them to get abortions, although he has campaigned for the
procedure to be outlawed.
The race, which went to a runoff after neither candidate secured 50% of
the vote in the Nov. 8 first round, has become the most expensive of the
2022 U.S. midterm election season, with more than $400 million spent so
far. Campaign finance records show Warnock with a clear advantage in
A victory by Warnock would give Democrats a 51-seat majority in the
100-seat Senate, which would make it slightly easier to advance Biden's
nominees for judicial and administrative posts. Most legislation would
still require Republican support.
Polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern time (0000 Wednesday GMT), and at least
1.87 million people cast their votes before Election Day, equal to 47%
of the Nov. 8 turnout.
Analysts say those votes likely tilted Democratic, which will require
strong Election Day turnout by Walker's Republican supporters. Opinion
polls have shown a narrow lead for Warnock.
"We need you to show up. If you haven't already voted you need to vote
on Election Day," Warnock said at a Monday rally at the Georgia
Institute of Technology.
Warnock is the pastor of the historic Atlanta church where slain U.S.
civil rights icon Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. Both
Warnock and Walker are Black.
Walker has accused Warnock of backing policies that fuel inflation and
has campaigned against transgender women competing in women's sports.
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Local residents wait in line to cast
their ballot during the runoff U.S. Senate election between
Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger
Herschel Walker in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., December 6, 2022.
Walker on Monday spent his time in conservative areas of northern
"I feel pretty good. We can win this thing," Walker said as he
greeted well-wishers at a store in Calhoun. He did not take
substantive questions from the press.
Gary Wilson, 69, who owns a heating and air business, said he
believed Walker was a decent person in addition to a sporting great.
"Through the years everybody has looked up to Herschel for what he
had done with the football team. But he's a good person," he said.
Along with the abortion claims, former girlfriends have also accused
Walker of domestic abuse. He has also faced allegations that he
maintains his primary residence in Texas, not Georgia.
Walker has denied the charges, but they may have discouraged some
Republican voters. Warnock edged him 49.44% to 48.49% in November,
even as Republican Governor Brian Kemp and other statewide
Republican candidates easily won re-election.
Republicans won a narrow majority in the U.S. House of
Representatives in the Nov. 8 election, but fell short of the "red
wave" that some had forecast. The party also failed to capture a
This is the third Senate runoff in two years in the closely divided
state - and the second for Warnock, who first won the seat in a
runoff in January 2021.
Kemp has been campaigning for Walker and Trump held a tele-rally for
Walker on Monday night, but did not campaign for him in person.
Warnock, meanwhile, drew former President Barack Obama to a rally
last week but Biden has not been to Georgia to campaign for Warnock.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne, additional reporting by Steve Holland,
writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Rosalba
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