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Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock headed to runoff election that could determine Senate control

Race still highly contested after damaging revelations hit GOP candidate’s campaign

John Bowden,Alex Woodward
Wednesday 09 November 2022 18:24 GMT
Midterms 2022: What's happened in the Senate?

Georgia’s Senate race is headed to a familiar place: a runoff, after Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican opponent Herschel Walker failed to garner more than 50 per cent of the vote.

NBC News and CNN projected that the race was headed for a runoff shortly after 12pm ET; at the time, Mr Warnock led Mr Walker by less than one per cent.

That could mean that the outcome of the race and control of the upper chamber of Congress – depending on results from other tight races in Arizona and Nevada that have yet to be called as of 9 November – will once again come down to voters in Georgia.

A runoff election could echo a similar scenario in 2020 elections that saw Georgia voters sending two Democratic candidates to the Senate – Mr Warnock and Jon Ossoff – in a closely watched runoff election that ultimately gave Democrats a razor-thin majority.

Mr Walker’s campaign has been battered by news of his past accusations of domestic violence and abuse, not to mention the revelation that he had multiple children out of wedlock whom he had not previously acknowledged. To top it all off, one of the mothers of his four children accused him of paying for an abortion in 2009; Mr Walker has campaigned as staunchly anti-abortion.

Mr Warnock has largely avoided direct attacks against his opponent on those issues, allowing the Republican some respite.

Mr Warnock is now hoping to maintain control of the seat against the Donald Trump-endorsed former NFL star whose conservative agenda stands in stark contrast to the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr Martin Luther King had preached.

Georgia’s top elections official Gabriel Sterling has also predicted that the race will head to a runoff.

That election is scheduled for 6 December.

Republicans will have a tough time taking control of the Senate from Democrats if they are unable to recapture the seat from Mr Warnock; Democrats, meanwhile, see his seat as crucial to building the numbers needed to challenge the filibuster.

The election has underscored the divided ballots in a state that has seen recent trends towards electing Democratic candidates in recent years, including President Joe Biden’s narrow defeat of Mr Trump in 2020, marking the first time a Democratic candidate has carried the state since 1992.

Republican Governor Brian Kemp was re-elected, but Mr Walker has underperformed against Mr Kemp’s winning margins, and Mr Warnock has outpaced gains from Democrotic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams.

In brief remarks on Tuesday night, Mr Walker told supporters to “hang in there a little bit longer.”

“I’m telling you right now: I didn’t come to lose,” he said.

In a post on Twitter in the early morning hours on Wednesday, Mr Warnock said results will show that “we are going to have received more votes than my opponent.”

“And whether we need to work all night, through tomorrow, or for four more weeks, we will do what we need to and bring this home,” he said.

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