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Home U.S. Georgia Gears Up for Runoff Election as Rest of U.S. Moves On

Georgia Gears Up for Runoff Election as Rest of U.S. Moves On

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CANTON, GA — Just two days after the final campaign was in the rear-view mirror, the political world plunged into the Georgia Senate election, showing the extent of the Democrats’ unexpected traction in the midterms and how the Republicans could overcome their long shadow. I’ll let you know if it’s possible. Former President Donald J. Trump.

The result of Georgia’s runoff election between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican former soccer star Herschel Walker could determine control of the Senate, but Arizona’s Senate election It remained unclear on Thursday night as votes continued to be counted in and Nevada.

One thing’s for sure: the December 6th spill won’t come cheap. The candidate and his allies have already spent more than $2.5 billion on his Georgia contest for this cycle. According to OpenSecrets, a research group tracking money in politics. Last year, Mr. Warnock won a seat in a special election run-off alongside Senator John Ozoff’s simultaneous Senate election. According to the group, these contests were the most expensive in the history of Congress.

Now that Georgia is in its third runoff election in less than two years, it all feels like Groundhog Day for Georgia voters, politicians, and strategists. Donors are being tapped for another round of big checks. And voters are gearing up for another month of non-stop advertising campaigns leading up to Thanksgiving.

On Thursday, Walker returned to the campaign bus and headed alongside Texas Senator Ted Cruz to the Republican stronghold outside Atlanta. He met with Gov. Brian Kemp in the morning to discuss how the newly re-elected governor can support his runoff campaign, according to Republicans briefed about the conversation. This could mark a shift from a general election in which Kemp distanced himself from Walker’s stigmatized political brand, with state parties rallying on his bid.

But Thursday was all about revitalizing his voter base in a region that has overwhelmingly supported his candidacy from the start: More than 1,000 people filled a tent outside a Canton brewery and walked in. I went to see Mr. and Mr. Cruz.

Mr. Walker kept the same points as Thursday’s stumps address, combining highlights of his personal talk with criticism of Mr. Warnock. He spoke out against the senator’s acknowledgment of systemic racism in the United States and his vote in favor of President Biden’s policies before delving into his points on crime, inflation and immigration. . He also used athletic analogies to describe the run-off, calling it “overtime.”

“We are not going to divide this house under my supervision,” he said, encouraging a large crowd of supporters. I had an American flag.

Mr. Warnock addressed supporters in Atlanta surrounded by nearly 100 people holding placards with the slogan “Again.” “I have to admit I warned you we might spend Thanksgiving together,” Warnock told the Atlanta crowd on Thursday.

The runoff began with the Democratic Senate candidate holding on to the lead in Arizona and winning a mail-in ballot in Nevada. In the House, where Republicans won or led with 221 seats, the GOP’s prospects seemed stronger.

The run-off was a holdover from Jim Crow-era laws intended to weaken the influence of black politicians who could easily win multi-candidate elections with large numbers of votes. Georgia will have a runoff vote if neither candidate clears her 50%. With more than 95 percent of the votes tallied on Thursday afternoon, neither of the top candidates had a shot at a majority. Mr. Warnock won his 49.4% of the vote and Mr. Walker his 48.5% of the vote, a margin of about 35,000 votes. (Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver got 2.1% of him, or about 81,000 votes.)

The contest is whether voters are motivated by issues such as abortion rights that led the Democrats to victory in the midterm elections, or are keen to denounce the administration over economic problems and public safety concerns. test whether

Republicans have been quick to blame Trump’s defeat, pointing to the number of candidates who, like Walker, helped him win the primary but then lost to Democrats. So far, Mr. Warnock has outpaced Mr. Biden’s underground support in the state and will have to maintain that momentum to win the runoff. If Senate control is at stake, it could be more difficult to pull his position away from Biden.

Standing in front of a mural of former Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, on Thursday, Warnock delivered a campaign speech celebrating the accomplishments of the last months of his campaign, followed by a series of campaigns against Lewis. Rekindled the line of attack. Walker. Mr. Warnock has established himself as a bipartisan trade maker whose job is to bring down the cost of insulin as well as investments in infrastructure and agriculture. He has contrasted his track record with Mr. Walker’s lack of political experience.

“This race is about competence. It also requires willingness and ability to recognize the challenges facing Georgians and to work with them to address them,” he said. “Hershel Walker has shown that he is incompetent.”

Much of the Senate campaign revolves around trust issues, with each candidate attacking the other for being unprepared and unreliable. A staunch anti-abortion advocate, Walker has accused him of paying to end the pregnancies of two ex-girlfriends, exaggerating his business accomplishments, and his relationship with the military and law enforcement. lies about work, and his ex-wife.

Its rocky personal history has repulsed important swing voters and even some Republicans. In this week’s election, Walker trailed Kemp, who ran for re-election on Tuesday night, by nearly five points. His losses were particularly severe among swing voters and independent voters in suburban Atlanta. Mr. Kemp split that group about evenly, but Mr. Walker lost them by 11 points to him.

For Walker to win, he must limit losses among promiscuous voters and increase turnout for his party. This could be made easier when control of the Senate is at stake, not just his candidacy. Republicans in Georgia may be less willing to support Walker if Arizona and Nevada cede control of the Senate to Democrats.

“For Herschel Walker to succeed, we Republicans have to walk and chew gum at the same time,” said Heath Garrett, former chief of staff to former Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson. “The base must be dismantled, and college-educated men and women living in the suburbs must be allowed to come back and vote for Herschel.”

A key part of their strategy hinges on presenting a united front to Republicans in Georgia. This is about bringing the best agents to the states and campaigning with Mr. Walker. Those close to the campaign said both Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could help build enthusiasm for Walker among Republican supporters. .

Negotiations with Trump are even more complicated. The former president, who has known Walker for nearly 40 years, endorsed his initial candidacy over concerns of the Republican establishment. Still, he stayed out of state in the primary, despite hosting large rallies for other candidates he supported.

On Thursday, discussions about Trump’s role were ongoing between Walker campaign headquarters in Georgia, the Republican National Senate Committee in Washington, and Republicans working at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. rice field.

In addition to Trump’s rallies, another option that has surfaced is to enlist Trump as a hyper-financier, locking him in a South Florida mansion for a series of fundraisers that will raise tens of millions of dollars. It was to help with procurement. A person briefed on the matter, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations about the strategy, said he needed to help Walker.

Trump has assured people that he believes Walker won’t hurt him if he enters the state. Others are less optimisticGeorgia is in a particularly difficult situation for the former president, whose false allegations about the 2020 election fraud sparked a battle royale within the Georgia Republican Party. Last year he made two simultaneous finals.

Walker, meanwhile, has tried to connect Warnock with the beleaguered president. He also downgraded Mr. Warnock’s qualifications as pastor of his Baptist church, Ebenezer, one of the most prominent black churches in the country.he attacked $7,000+ monthly The housing allowance the church gives Mr. Warnock and the church’s ownership of the Atlanta apartment that some residents tried to evict. Warnock denies eviction.

Under a ballot law that Georgia passed last year, the state’s runoff period was reduced from nine weeks to four weeks. This leaves campaign and alliance organizers more than accustomed to coordinating events and mobilizing already-strung voters who have been asked to vote in three heated elections in the past two years. You can get a short amount of time.

Neither party shows any signs of withdrawing from the contest. The Democratic Senate Election Committee, the official campaign arm of the Senate Democratic Party, will spend $7 million to mobilize voters in Georgia’s runoff, the organization said Thursday. The campaign committee asked donors to contribute directly to a joint account of the committee and Walker’s campaign.

Rep. Nikema Williams, chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, said Thanksgiving coincides with the final week of the campaign. Georgians who do not understand.”

maya king Reporting from Canton, Georgia Lisa Reller from New York. Michael C. Bender When Maggie Haberman contributed to the report.

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