Trailblazing Democratic United States Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia has prevailed over Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election and will return to Washington, D.C. for a six-year term representing the Peach State, giving Democrats a fifty-one vote majority in the Senate for the 118th Congress.
With 96.03% of the estimated vote counted, Warnock had a 57,240 vote lead over Walker, a former gridiron star who disgraced himself on the campaign trail with a series of incoherent, ridiculous statements. Warnock had a total of 1,752,384 votes — 50.8%, while Walker had 1,695,144 votes — 49.2%.
Reverend Warnock’s projected hard-fought victory (which still must be confirmed by official returns) brings the 2022 midterm cycle to a close on a high note for Democrats. They have now succeeded in defending every single incumbent who was up in 2022, from Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire to Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Mark Kelly in Arizona to Warnock in Georgia.
Not since 1934 has the president’s party defended every incumbent senator’s seat in a midterm election. It’s a truly historic accomplishment.
Until 2020, when Warnock first won along with seatmate Jon Ossoff (who did not face voters this year because he was elected to a full six-year term), Georgia had not elected a Democratic candidate to the United States Senate in two decades.
Before them, the last Democrat to win in the Peach State was the unfaithful Zell Miller, elected in 2000 to replace Republican Paul Coverdell. Miller would memorably endorse George W. Bush and attack his own party at the 2004 Republican National Convention; he was succeeded by Republican Johnny Isakson.
The last sitting Democratic senator to win consecutive elections in Georgia was the legendary Sam Nunn, who served from November 8th, 1972 – until January 3rd, 1997. Nunn was succeeded by another Democrat, Max Cleland, who couldn’t hang on against the odious Saxby Chambliss twenty years ago.
The seat once held by Nunn and Cleland is now held by Ossoff, while Reverend Warnock holds the other seat — one that has often alternated between Democratic and Republican representation since the 1980s.
(Before then, from the Civil War through the Carter years, it was won continuously by Democrats as part of the “Solid South.”)
Warnock utterly crushed Walker in metropolitan Atlanta, taking nearly 90% of the vote in heavily Democratic DeKalb County, and also winning the counties in which Augusta, Savannah, and Columbus are located. Additionally, Warnock succeeded in keeping Walker’s margins in check in many important rural counties.
The result was a narrow win, but not a razor-thin one.
“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart… and to God be the glory,” said Warnock in a victory speech shortly before 11:15 PM Eastern.
“I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for a world we desire for ourselves and our children,” he added. “Voting is faith put into action.”
“And Georgia, you have been praying with your lips and your legs! With your hands and your feet, your heads, and your hearts.”
“You have put in the hard work and here we are standing together!”
Before networks called the race for Warnock, President Joe Biden was asked (according to a pool report) about the Georgia runoff.
Biden shouted back (from the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews, where he had just landed): “We’re going to win. We’re going to win Georgia.”
Biden then boarded a presidential limousine for a motorcade ride back to the White House (skipping the usual helicopter ride due to bad weather).
In a statement sent to NPI, NextGen America celebrated the impact of the young voters who showed up to propel Warnock to victory.
“Young people across Georgia showed up, voted, and fought for a better future this election,” NextGen PAC President and Executive Director Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez said. “NextGen is excited to celebrate the youth-led victory of Senator Warnock.”
“From abortion rights to economic justice, young people across the state resoundingly support progressive candidates and initiatives that promise equity and justice for all. Leading up to the runoff election, NextGen connected with thousands of voters across the state to make sure they had a plan to show up to fight for the issues they care about. Young Georgians’ message is clear – extremist Republicans and their values do not represent our vision for the future.”
“Tonight, Georgia voters re-elected a champion for clean energy jobs and environmental justice, Senator Raphael Warnock,” said Evergreen Action Chief of Staff Lena Moffitt.
“In just his first two years in office, we’ve already seen Senator Warnock introduce legislation to champion American solar manufacturing and cast a crucial vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant investment in climate and clean energy in American history.”
“Senator Warnock’s strong climate record no doubt inspired young voters, the demographic most likely to be concerned about climate change who turned out in record numbers in Georgia this election cycle. Warnock’s campaign placed Herschel Walker’s bizarre climate change positions front and center in the closing days, and Georgia voters rejected a climate-denying extremist. Tonight’s results show yet again that climate change is a winning issue.”