ATLANTA — Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker is already shaping up to be one of the most expensive senate races in history.
Both candidates are raking in donations while campaigning for the Dec. 6 runoff begins in earnest with high profile supporters slated to rally in Georgia.
Anti-abortion group backs Walker with $1M
The Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and its partner Women Speak Out PAC say they will spend at least $1 million to support Walker in the runoff.
“Our field team has visited over 456,000 homes in Georgia to expose Raphael Warnock’s pro-abortion extremism and support Herschel Walker. We are proud to back Herschel and will work tirelessly to secure his victory in the runoff,” said SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Walker’s support for compassionate limits on abortion aligns with the people of Georgia and the overwhelming majority of Americans, in stark contrast to ‘activist pastor’ Warnock’s radical position of abortion on demand until birth, paid for by taxpayers.”
Earlier in his campaign, Walker said he would support a nationwide ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
However, as Republicans backed away from the most restrictive abortion stances nearing the Nov. 8 general election, Walker has since backtracked a bit.
In an Oct. 14 debate in Savannah, Walker said he supports Georgia’s abortion law which bans most abortions after what is called “a fetal heartbeat” is detected, typically around six weeks of pregnancy.
Several polls have indicated a majority of Georgians are against stringent abortion restrictions, and particularly Georgia’s new law.
Most recently, a poll administered by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia between Sept. 25 and Oct.4, nearly 62% of 1,030 likely voters either “strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose” the state’s new law.
Grassroot efforts ramp up for Warnock in runoff
Warnock identifies a s pro-choice pastor, supporting a woman’s right to choose in her health care decisions.
“My opponent thinks the Supreme Court didn’t go far enough. He wants a nationwide abortion ban with no exceptions,” Warnock tweeted just a day before the Nov. 8 election.
As of October, Warnock was steeply ahead of Walker by approximately $100 million in campaign financing.
In October, Women Speak Out PAC launched a $1 million television ad against Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Warnock for their support for abortion. SBA said it also joined WSO PAC in contacting 754,000 Georgia voters via door-to-door canvassing, voter contact mail, digital ads, live phone calls and text messaging to educate them on Democrats’ pro-abortion stances.
Their efforts were amid revelations and documents indicating that Walker paid for abortions for two women in his past. Walker, however, has denied the allegations.
In that midterm election, Walker, a former Georgia football star and Donald Trump-endorsed candidate, did not have the success of other Republicans in Georgia races.
Nearly 203,000 more voters cast a ballot for Kemp than voted for Walker, and 18,000 voters who voted in the governor’s race skipped voting in the U.S. Senate race. In addition, nearly 82,000 voted for neither Walker nor Warnock, and voted for the Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver instead.
Oliver’s campaign manager, Tarnell Brown, said Oliver is not going to endorse either candidate, but offered both Walker and Warnock an opportunity to participate in a forum to gain support of those 82,000 voters.
“We’ve got (more than) 81,000 people that didn’t want Walker or Warnock and that’s a significant number in a state with a race that is this close and they need to address those voters,” Brown said. “Their concerns weren’t being addressed and they need to be heard.”
Several grassroots voting groups are preparing to also ramp up voter outreach efforts, particularly in minority or underserved area of Georgia.
Lela Ali, Georgia state advisor at the Movement Voter Project, said despite donations to grassroots groups being lower in midterm elections, groups are continuing to reach out to donors to ramp up canvassing and voter outreach.
“Our partner organizations, the voters that they typically prioritize and center in their work are (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), young, and communities who have historically been marginalized,” Ali said. “These are these are groups that endorse Democratic running candidates.”
As voter turnout is much lower in runoff elections, Ali said it’s important for donors to support grassroots groups that will be working to make voters aware of the runoff and candidate positions.
In the 2018 midterm election, 23% of registered voters turned out for the runoff in which both Republican candidates ultimately won. The general election turnout that year was 61.44%
In a Jan. 2021 special election runoff for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat, which was ultimately won by Warnock, more than 429,000 less voters voted than in the November general election that year.
“We are coordinating with the Donor Alliance of Georgia, to make sure that we’re aligned in terms of how we move money, but the quickest and the most strategic in Georgia with this really tight timeline of four weeks,” Ali said.
The runoff is Dec. 6. There will be one week of early voting between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2. The seat is expected to determine which party will control the U.S. Senate.