A look at Georgia’s Senate election


Just around the corner, on Nov. 8, 2022, are the U.S. Senate elections in Georgia. The U.S. Senate elections are a part of the midterm elections, in which members of Congress are reelected. They occur halfway through a president’s term. 

The two leading candidates for the Georgia election are current Senator Rafael Warnock and former football player Herschel Walker. 

Warnock, representing the Democrats, won the 2021 special election runoff against Kelly Loeffler and is running for his first full term. As well as being a politician, Warnock is ordained in ministry and serves as a pastor in Atlanta, Georgia. He serves on many Congressional committees, including the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee and the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. 

Walker, the Republican nominee, has no political background but played football as a running back with the University of Georgia, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Minnesota Vikings. He is currently a businessman and entrepreneur. Walker’s campaign is endorsed by former president Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The current format for Senate elections has a third of the Senate up for reelection every two years with each Senator serving a six-year term. A common pattern in Senate candidates is a background in law. Recently, this norm has changed as candidates have been more famous figures in society. Being a well-known candidate, however, can pose a liability. Things people have said and done years ago can be brought up by news reporters and used against them. 

“Multiple presidents have seen their party lose seats in midterms and then try to make the best of the situation by claiming that the other party’s control of Congress, whether it is the House, the Senate, or both, has led to two years of inaction, and blocking their priorities,” said John Monahan, advisor of the Civil Dialogue Fellows program and the Young Democrats. “When that president runs for reelection, they can point to what one president called a ‘do nothing Congress’ as why the country’s problems were not being solved. It is a foundation for them to run for reelection, allowing them to ask for four more years to vote for the people of their party, for things to get better.” 

Since World War II, there have been 19 midterm elections. In 17 of them, the president’s party has lost power in Congress. Based on this trend, the Republicans have a good chance of taking control. Nevertheless, with the Senate split fifty-fifty, this election will most likely turn into a runoff.

However, people expect Warnock to have a chance after controversial rumors about Walker have been released. Additionally, the Vice President can play a tiebreaker role in the Senate, which is the reason why Democrats have currently been able to pass bills in their favor. 

“The division between the Senate is close, and because of Kamala Harris, the Democrats have an advantage,” said Abby Warshauer, a Young Democrats lead. “Due to this, any loss for Democrats will be largely positive for Republicans.”

Known as “October surprises”, certain information sometimes comes out about the candidates that the public did not know. This can sometimes be influential enough to change a previously stable race. But since both candidates have said openly controversial things, many researchers believe that defamation will not affect the public’s votes. 

In 2020, Warnock’s wife, Ndoye, accused him of deliberately running over her foot with his car during a verbal argument. There is also an example for Walker, a candidate running for office in a post-Roe v. Wade America, who opposes abortion without exception in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. His “October surprise” is the rumor that Walker encouraged and paid for his former girlfriend’s abortion 13 years ago. Pieces of evidence against Walker include a receipt from the abortion clinic, a get-well card he wrote to his ex-girlfriend, and a copy of a check for around the same amount as the receipt. This woman not only claims that Walker paid for this abortion but that he also tried to persuade her to have a second abortion, which she refused. Walker recently denied these claims, and they go against the pro-life values he supports and uses in his campaign.

“In general, historically, issues of hypocrisy by people who are running for positions of power seem to bother voters more because people think it reflects the sense of entitlement, or one set of rules for you, and a different set of rules for the rest of us,” said Monahan. 

In a debate between Warnock and Walker on Oct. 14, 2022, each candidate got sixty seconds to speak and a thirty-second rebuttal. In the debate, Walker tried to frame his rival as untrustworthy, but Warnock refuted it and focused on the rumors of Walker being an absentee father. 

Walker has been known to give answers in debates that deviate from the facts or exaggerate specific claims. In the past, he’s claimed to have been a police officer, had a career in the military, and that he did not graduate from college. Walker reneged on his far-right values, changing his staunched chance on abortion and instead campaigning for certain exceptions.

As for Warnock, he has been accused of avoiding directly answering questions by turning the focus on altercations relating to Walker during the debate. 

Like many other Democrats, Warnock advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, a higher minimum wage, and a ban on the death penalty. Aligning with traditionally Republican values, Walker encourages lower taxes, restrictions on immigration, and heavy investment in the military.

Edited by Sophia Cunningham