Early voting begins in some Georgia counties as Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker sprint to December 6 runoff



CNN

A week-long early voting period begins in some Georgia counties on Saturday, with Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker participating in a Dec. 6 runoff, a week and a half after Thanksgiving.

Unlike 2021 runoff, control of the Senate is not on the line, Democrats have already won 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris has given the party the electoral vote.

But the stakes remain high: a Warnock victory would give the Democrats an outright majority rather than require the current power-sharing deal. Democrats would have majorities on the committees, making it easier for them to nominate President Joe Biden’s nominees.

The Georgia Supreme Court declared a victory for Warnock on Wednesday, allowing counties to offer early voting on Saturday. Democrats have said they expect as many as 22 counties to do so, some of them in densely populated areas around Atlanta, including DeKalb and Fulton, as well as Chatham County, where Savannah lives.

The decision comes after a legal battle sparked by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s interpretation of the state’s 2021 election. voting law. He said the new law restricted voting to weekends immediately after the holidays.

According to this 2021 the law cut the runoff period in half to four weeks and limited the early voting period to at least five days, rather than the 16-day minimum that had been in place when Democrats won two Senate runoffs. in 2021 month of January.

As many as 22 of the state’s 159 counties allowed voters to cast ballots Saturday.

At one polling place in Atlanta, Boston College student Emma Demilio said she probably wouldn’t have been able to vote in person if early voting sites hadn’t opened.

“This is the only time I’m in Georgia and I can vote. I’m leaving tomorrow so I was very happy to get it,” she said, adding that she may have been trying to wrestle with the absentee ballot.

Warnock continues to edge Walker as they enter the final stretch.

Warnock collected almost 52.2 million. USD from October 20 until November 16, a period spanning the end of the general election and roughly the first week of the run-off. Walker raised $20.9 million during that time, according to his campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission. Warnock ended the period with more than £29.7m in the bank. USD, more than three times the 9.8 million. USD remained in his rival’s coffers.

Warnock is set to bring a top Democratic replacement: Former President Barack Obama is set to travel to Atlanta on Thursday for a rally before the final day of early voting.

So far, Obama is the only former or current president who plans to visit Georgia before the runoff.

Neither President Joe Biden, whom Walker’s campaign tried to rope in Warnock, nor former President Donald Trump, who served when Republicans lost two Senate races two years ago, have scheduled trips to the state. On Saturday, Warnock appeared with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) at a rally in Sandy Springs, just outside Atlanta.

Trump allies, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, opposed Walker, and the former president himself did not campaign with the candidate he recruited.

Meanwhile, other Republicans are rallying around Walker, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has pumped more than $10 million into the race since the general election.

In addition to the new influx of outside spending, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who was seeking re-election earlier this month, made his first public appearance with Walker after strong-arming the former football player all fall.

Kemp defeated a Trump-backed primary challenger in May and then outspent Walker by more than 200,000 votes in the general election, a sign of his appeal to moderate Democrats and Walker’s difficulty consolidating Republicans.

Still, Democrats said they doubted Kemp could save Walker in the runoff, where Walker is the only Republican on the ballot.

“There are a lot of people who voted for Raphael Warnock and Brian Kemp,” said Jason Carter, 2014. Democratic gubernatorial candidate and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

He called Warnock “a unique figure”, noting that he “got more votes than Herschel Walker and he got more votes than any other Democrat”.

“People appreciate him. And they think of him first as Raphael Warnock and then as his political party and all that stuff,” Carter said.

A new potential runoff election came to light on Wednesday. The Georgia Supreme Court also reinstated the state’s six-week abortion ban in a separate legal battle.

It was a political victory for Republicans who enacted the ban and defended it in court, but such a victory could come at a political cost, reviving the backlash against the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that energized Democrats and emboldened moderate voters. their favorability on the party’s path to a surprisingly strong showing in this year’s midterm elections.

According to an average of CNN polls, 28% of Georgia voters say abortion is the most important issue on their ballot, second only to inflation at 37%.

Of those who said abortion was the most important issue, 77% supported Warnock compared to 21% who voted for Walker, a change for inflation and 45 percentage points ahead of Walker.

53 percent of Georgia voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and among those voters, 75 percent supported Warnock. Of the 43% who said it should be illegal in all or most cases, 87% supported Walker.

Both countries have already invested more than 40 million dollars in TV advertising during the second round. Democratic groups spent nearly $25 million, while GOP groups spent nearly $16 million, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact.

In an effort to unify Republican caucuses, Walker’s super PAC is sending out letters promoting Kemp’s support and trying to tie Warnock to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. “You stopped Stacey. Ban Warnock now,” they read.

“Who do you want to fight for you in the United States Senate?” Do you want a guy who represents our values, like Herschel Walker, or do you want a guy who stood with Joe Biden 96% of the time?”’ Kemp said at a Cobb County rally last weekend, borrowing a familiar attack from Walker. .

Kemp also repeats this line of attack in a new TV commercial released by SLF. The governor and McConnell’s group are also teaming up for votes. SLF is promoting Kemp State’s efforts to help Walker with a $2 million grant.

Warnock’s campaign is also trying to win over Republicans who effectively chose Kemp over Trump.

In a new ad for Warnock’s campaign, the woman says she voted for Kemp this year and describes herself as a lifelong Republican, but goes on to say she won’t support Walker because of his “lack of character.”

Warnock also campaigned in what should be one of Walker’s safest territories: his hometown. At an event in Wrightsville, where Walker played high school football, Warnock asked voters to separate the sports hero from the political candidate.

“I saw what your favorite son did on the soccer field. I don’t mind giving credit where credit is due. That brother can blow you away on that soccer field. He made a lot of impressions and did a lot for the great University of Georgia. And he deserves credit for that,” said Warnock. “But tonight we’re in a different area.

At the same time, the Republican faced some backlash for his own announcement, along with University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who previously appeared alongside Walker and competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who has become the focus of a debate over transgender women’s participation. in sports and was often attacked in the conservative media.

“I worked so hard for more than a decade. Four morning exercises to be our best. But in my older years, I was forced to compete with my biological male,” Gaines says in the ad.

The announcement comes days after a gunman allegedly targeted the LGBTQ community at a gay club in Colorado. One of the five dead was transgender.

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