The commencement of early voting in Georgia’s tight Senate race, which has been marred by mudslinging and scandals, will help determine which party will control the upper house. In spite of harsh campaign advertising and strategically timed opposition research dumps, Republican Herschel Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock have maintained a close race in the polls.
The two men squared off in a heated discussion on Friday in Savannah, and a section of it was devoted to asking the candidates about a variety of issues that had come to light in news stories and campaign advertisements.
The most recent damaging information about Mr. Warnock was published in the Washington Free Beacon. It showed that Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he continues to receive a $7,417 housing allowance each month in addition to his senior pastor salary, had attempted to evict low-income residents from an apartment complex due to unpaid rent as little as $28.55.
At the debate, Mr. Warnock did not expressly deny the allegations but referred to them as “desperate” and claimed that Mr. Walker and the GOP were “busy trying to sully Ebenezer Baptist Congregation,” the renowned church where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. served as co-pastor.
Mr. Walker has devoted a significant portion of his campaign to dispelling allegations that he paid for his girlfriend to get an abortion and encouraged her to do so in order to have a second child. In addition, Mr. Walker, who is running on a pro-family and anti-abortion platform, has been forced to answer to criticism from his son who labeled him of being a non-parent, as well as a Warnock campaign advertisement citing prior domestic abuse charges. During the discussion on Friday, he refuted the assertion of an abortion payment.
Recent attack ads by Mr. Walker focused on allegations made by Mr. Warnock’s ex-wife that he neglected to pay child support and ran her over with his automobile. When the debate moderator inquired about the unpaid child support, Mr. Warnock chose not to immediately respond.
Up to the debate, the controversies had largely overshadowed the two candidates’ policy differences in the contest. The topics of inflation, prescription costs, voting rights, crime, abortion, and student loans were debated by Mr. Warnock and Mr. Walker.
Mr. Walker entered the scene as the underdog, expecting that the more polished Mr. Warnock, who had more than a year of experience in the Senate and decades of experience as a well-known preacher, would be no match for the former college football star and NFL player.
Mr. Walker downplayed expectations during the campaign, assuring supporters that he is not your average politician and that he is proud of his rural Georgia background. He discusses the necessity for atonement while admitting his shortcomings in the past.
He criticized Mr. Warnock during the discussion for advocating unfettered abortion, saying it was inconsistent with his position as a Christian clergyman, and for giving evasive responses to important queries. He connected Mr. Warnock to President Biden, who is despised in the region, as well as to the fiscal and energy policies that are to blame for inflation and skyrocketing gas costs.
When the moderators questioned Mr. Warnock about whether he supported the radical left’s plan to extend the Supreme Court or thought Mr. Biden should run for a second term, he declined to respond.
At Mr. Warnock, Mr. Walker gestured across the stage. “You have to become a leader when you go to Washington,” Mr. Walker added. “To be a leader, you must be able to make really difficult choices. Can you see the solution there? He didn’t actually respond to your question. So, I’m going to say no.
One of 12 children who grew up in poor housing, Mr. Warnock has run for office on the strength of his personal success story and his willingness to serve in the Senate. On the debate stage, he applied similar tactic, promising to back the expansion of Medicaid in Georgia, strive to cut the high cost of college tuition, bring down the price of prescription drugs, and offer other public programs for the working class and the poor that helped him escape poverty. Mr. Warnock attributed a portion of the rise in petrol, food, and medicine prices to corporate greed. Every day, he continued, “I’ve spoken up for hard-working families and I’ve fought against the businesses who are being horrible actors.”
The Georgia Senate race is among the most closely contested in the midterm elections and it occurs as the formerly traditionally red Peach State electorate has shifted more Democratic, mainly to immigrants who have migrated to Atlanta and its environs.
Before January 2021, when Mr. Warnock and Democrat Jon Ossoff won special elections for both seats, beating Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the two Senate seats were held by Republicans for over two decades.
Republicans think that the country’s economic problems will pull voters to the GOP ticket and boost party turnout despite the fact that the divided electorate continues to lean red.
Additionally, Mr. Walker may gain from Gov. Brian Kemp’s goodwill. In most surveys, the governor, a Republican seeking a second term, has a significant lead against Stacey Abrams, a Democrat.
In an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Kemp declined to address Mr. Walker’s race explicitly. According to him, the GOP is in a far stronger position than it was in 2021, when Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler were beaten, in terms of campaign resources on the ground.
Since the 2020 election, we’ve been trying to collect money and develop a ground game that will benefit the entire ticket, Mr. Kemp added. The mudslinging has been little more than background noise for some Georgia voters.
Steve Adams, who works in a plant that produces modular buildings in Pearson, a small rural community in south Georgia 55 miles from the Florida border, said he doesn’t believe all the disparaging campaign remarks. Everyone has a murky background, and that information can be discovered about anyone, according to Mr. Adams. More so than others, some.