(ATLANTA) — Georgia’s Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker comes to a close on Tuesday after more than a year of campaigning, several controversies and record-breaking turnout.
While the race won’t determine control of the Senate, it could increase Democrats’ power in the chamber — where Vice President Kamala Harris currently has to break ties — or see the Republicans win a 50th seat and create procedural obstacles.
Walker, a businessman and local football legend, and Warnock, a noted reverend in Atlanta, first faced off in November’s general election. But neither got 50% of the vote as required by state law, leading to Tuesday’s runoff after about a week of early voting.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Dec 06, 12:31 PM EST
Walker dodges Warnock’s attacks on his character
ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott asked Herschel Walker on Election Day about his rival questioning his character and competence — and if he was confident that he could flip Sen. Raphael Warnock’s seat.
“I’m not going to answer that,” Walker said, repeating a version anytime he was presented with his opponent’s name. “We’re going out to win this election. So this election, I’m telling people to get out to vote.”
“Hershel Walker is going to be your senator, and we’re going to get things changed,” Walker added.
When pressed further, Walker said, “The reason I’m not going to address that is because it doesn’t need to be addressed … Right now, I’ll put my character against Raphael Warnock any day. Right now, I’ve done a lot of things.”
Walker’s strategy in the final stretch has been to link Warnock to President Joe Biden, labeling him a “rubber stamp” for Biden’s agenda, a characterization Warnock has rejected.
“I am the 18th most bipartisan senator in the Senate. Period,” Warnock told Scott on Monday. “Now I know that’s an inconvenient fact for Mr. Walker. We also know that he’s allergic to facts, even the facts about his own life.”
-ABC News’ Libby Cathey
Dec 06, 12:17 PM EST
Who is Raphael Warnock?
Warnock is running in his fourth election in under two years as he fights for a full six-year term representing the battleground state.
Warnock is currently at the helm of as Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, which was famously led by Martin Luther King Jr. He has campaigned on a personal history steeped in religion and social justice.
He has also touted his current work during his short time in Congress, including some bipartisan priorities.
“I’m not a senator who used to be a pastor. You might as well know that you sent a pastor to the Senate,” Warnock told canvassers in October.
In 2020, Warnock was accused by then-wife Ouleye of running over her foot amid their divorce proceedings.
Neither police nor medical professionals were able to find evidence to show that she was injured, and Warnock was not charged with any crimes. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the claim: “It didn’t happen.”
Dec 06, 12:16 PM EST
Who is Herschel Walker?
Walker hopes to do what former Sen. Kelly Loeffler could not and defeat Warnock in a runoff election in Georgia.
Walker is a football legend in the state known for scoring touchdowns in the University of Georgia’s 1980 championship season.
Now a businessman, he entered the Senate primary in August 2021 at the urging of former President Donald Trump, a longtime friend, whose swift support largely cleared the field.
“I’m here to win the seat for the Georgia people because the Georgia people need a winner,” he said in October.
Both the November election and the runoff have seen Walker deny a series of allegations from women, including that he paid for their abortions, which he has said is not true. He is running as a staunchly anti-abortion candidate.
During the campaign, Walker’s past also received new scrutiny, such as resurfaced reports about violence in his first marriage — which he didn’t contest — amid what he said was a struggle with dissociative identity disorder.
Dec 06, 12:16 PM EST
Election Day is here for midterm’s final battle
In Georgia, the stage is set for the final Senate battle of the midterm election as voters head back to the polls on Tuesday for the runoff election between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.
In November’s general election, Warnock finished less than 1% ahead of Walker, falling just short of the 50% threshold required by state law, triggering a four-week runoff election that included at least five days of mandatory early voting last week.
Georgia is no stranger to runoff elections and this is the third time voters cast ballots in a Senate runoff election in less than two years. But the dynamics have shifted since the 2020 campaign that got Warnock elected. The state legislature passed a sweeping voting law last year that, among other changes, shortened the runoff period from nine weeks to four, causing an all-out sprint to the finish line for both candidates.
On Monday, Walker and Warnock made their closing pitches to voters in multiple campaign stops on the eve of Election Day.
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