Ga. Senate runoff will bring a month of nonstop campaigning

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 5:31 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2022 at 5:34 PM EST
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Sen. Raphael Warnock will have to face off against Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff after neither candidate got the 50 percent plus one vote they needed to win the Senate seat outright.

Voters can request an absentee ballot until Nov. 28, the day early voting begins, and then the runoff will be Dec. 6.

Ahead of that will be a four-week blitz testing whether voters are more concerned about inflation under Democratic control of Washington or the Republican candidate’s rocky past.

With 98% of the votes counted Wednesday, Warnock had 1,941,499 votes, 49%; Walker had 1,906,246 votes, 49%, and Libertarian Chase Oliver had 81,175 votes, 2%.

Oliver may have been the spoiler who kept Warnock and Walker from getting the magic number each needed to claim the seat.

We were there Wednesday when the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the runoff.

He says it’s going to be a taxing month ahead for poll workers, but preparations have already begun.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s how the machinery of our democratic republic works. We welcome it because we know at the end of the day, everyone wants to know we have honest and fair elections,” Raffensperger said.


Election officials don’t believe the runoff should cost counties a lot of money, and they hope voters will take advantage of their right to vote.

“We hope the voters don’t have fatigue because this is where you get to exercise your priceless franchise, your right to vote. We want to encourage everyone to come out one more time,” said Raffensperger.

Under Georgia’s relatively new voting laws adopted in Senate Bill 202, Georgia runoffs take place much sooner than ever before. The law specifies early voting in a runoff should start “as soon as possible” after a primary or general election, and requires in-person early voting the Monday through Friday before the election.

Raffensperger said his office started building ballots for the Senate runoff Wednesday morning. Requests for absentee ballots are already underway. The sole week of early voting must begin no later than Monday, November 28.

“We do anticipate some counties may likely have Saturday voting following Thanksgiving as well also on Nov 26,” Raffensperger said. “We are working with the counties to find out their plans on this front. I ask the voters to come out and vote one last time.”

What the candidates say

Walker and Warnock are staying optimistic.

Walker said: “I’m telling you right now, I’m like Ricky Bobby, and I don’t come to lose.”

With the race so close, things can go either way.

“Raphael Warnock votes with Joe Biden 96% of the time,” Walker has told voters again and again. “He’s forgotten about the people of Georgia.”

Warnock, who is also the senior minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, answers that Walker is “not ready” and “not fit” for high office.

That’s an allusion to the celebrity athlete’s rocky past, from allegations of violence against his ex-wife to accusations by two women Walker once dated that he encouraged and paid for their abortions despite his public opposition to abortion rights.

We do know where one local official stands on the battle ahead.

“We’ve got a senator who’s not a Walker. He’s a runner,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. said at Tuesday night’s watch party for Warnock. “And since day one, he’s been running for Georgians. He’s been running for Georgians from Braselton to Brunswick. He’s gone from the foothills of Georgia to the coast and he’s represented every single one of us. That’s why we’ve got to make sure tonight that we send him back to Washington.”

Fast facts

  • Warnock was elected to the U.S. Senate after defeating Kelly Loeffler in a runoff election in January 2021. Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp after the late Johnny Isakson stepped down for health reasons. Warnock defeated Loeffler by 95,000 votes.
  • Warnock had never been elected to office before winning the 2021 runoff election.
  • Warnock is the first African American to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.
  • Warnock became prominent in politics as an activist to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Walker first entered politics in 2021 after he was encouraged by former President Donald Trump to run for Senate.
  • Walker easily fended off a challenge for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s Primary election. Five other candidates sought the nomination. Walker got slightly over 68% of the vote, easily avoiding a runoff election.
  • Walker is a University of Georgia football legend.

Walker owns a number of businesses, including D’Lites fast food franchise in Athens, Renaissance Man Food Services and H. Walker Enterprises.