Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker will face off against incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff election after neither candidate was able to secure over 50% of the vote in the state’s Senate race, according to a projection.
Decision Desk HQ made the projection at 11:42 a.m. EST on Wednesday. Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia secretary of state’s chief operating officer, said the runoff election will take place on December 6.
“While county officials are still doing the detailed work on counting the votes, we feel it is safe to say there will be a runoff for the US Senate here in Georgia slated for December 6,” Sterling tweeted early Wednesday morning.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told “The Brian Kilmeade Show” Wednesday morning, “Right now we have less than 20,000 total votes still out to be counted. That’s not enough to change the race. So this is headed for a runoff.”
Warnock, the 53-year-old reverend from Atlanta, Georgia, was first elected to the Senate on January 5, 2021, after defeating GOP candidate Kelly Loeffler in a run-off election. Loeffler had been appointed to serve until an election, having replaced the late Johnny Isakson.
As a newcomer into politics, Walker spent much of his campaign tying Warnock to unpopular President Joe Biden and painted the Democrat as a divisive, out-of-touch progressive.
“Senator Warnock believes America is a bad country full of racist people,” Walker said in one ad. “I believe we’re a great country full of generous people. Warnock wants to divide us. I want to bring us together.”
Throughout the cycle, the outsider candidate received endorsements from former President Donald Trump and national GOP figures like former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Polls initially showed that Warnock had a massive advantage over Walker, but the race tightened in the final few months of the campaign, as evidenced by one exclusive Trafalgar/Daily Wire poll released in late October.
With a slight focus on social issues, Warnock touted his strong support for abortion right’s throughout the campaign, drawing criticism from fellow Christians for his anti-life stances.
For his part, Walker also faced accusations that he had previously paid for the abortion of two different women. Walker denied those accusations. The former Heisman Trophy winner was also accused by his own son of being an absent dad during his childhood.
Walker touted his strong support for the Trump agenda. Warnock — differing from other Georgia Democrats like Stacey Abrams — also touted his independent streak during the campaign, claiming to be somebody willing to go against the grain of his own party.
The Democratic incumbent also had a gigantic wealth advantage, having raised more than $101.7 million during the campaign. Walker only raised $37 million but was still able to compete with Warnock’s hefty war chest.
The close battle presented more evidence that the Peach Tree State is a purple state rather than a red or blue state.
Until 2021, Georgia had historically been a red state, but Warnock and Jon Ossoff flipped both Senate seats and Biden won the southern state for the Democratic Party for the first time in decades.
Georgia voters were particularly animated in this election, despite Democratic warnings that a 2021 voter integrity law signed by incumbent Governor Brian Kemp would disenfranchise millions of voters. Democrats warned the legislation would usher in a new era of “Jim Crow 2.0.” President Joe Biden said it would make that previous era of American history look like “Jim Eagle.”
Based on comments made by the candidates as well as their team members, the run-off result was not surprising.
Walker told attendees at his campaign election night party, “I didn’t come to lose.”
By 12:00 p.m. EST, one Walker staffer was overheard saying “Well, what are you doing for the next 30 days? It’s runoff time.”
Warnock was also seemingly reserved to the idea of a runoff Tuesday night but jokingly told CNN, “I think that there is bipartisan agreement that we (would) rather not have politics and Thanksgiving mixed together,” Tuesday night.
Numerous folks have pointed out that a runoff scenario benefits Warnock, as Walker is now without the benefit of having the popular and now re-elected Governor Brian Kemp on the ticket.
“I don’t like the GOP’s odds in a Georgia runoff. Herschel Walker was benefitting heavily from Brian Kemp’s coattails, and Raphael Warnock was handicapped by Stacey Abrams’ weakness. Warnock’s already edging out Walker in that environment—head to head, he’s going to be formidable,” The National Review’s Nate Hochman tweeted.
I don’t like the GOP’s odds in a Georgia runoff. Herschel Walker was benefitting heavily from Brian Kemp’s coattails, and Raphael Warnock was handicapped by Stacey Abrams’ weakness. Warnock’s already edging out Walker in that environment—head to head, he’s going to be formidable. https://t.co/LSGiuFpcV1 pic.twitter.com/9Ylvjaelk8
— Nate Hochman (@njhochman) November 9, 2022
Warnock also has the added benefit of experience leading a successful runoff campaign, having done so in 2020.