Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign laid out its strategy for what is shaping up to be an expensive runoff in Georgia for his seat on Dec. 6, projecting confidence about victory in a memo Thursday.
“Reverend Warnock will win the runoff by continuing the strategic investments in paid communication and field organizing, continuing to hold the diverse coalition that has driven Reverend Warnock’s success, and emphasizing that this race is about who is able to represent our state,” Warnock campaign manager Quentin Fulks wrote. “We are confident we will win on December 6th.”
Fulks presented a two-prong message that signals the senator will continue to campaign as he has been so far: promoting his work with lawmakers in both parties for Georgia and attacking Republican rival and former football star Herschel Walker as “completely unqualified for a job that requires knowledge of the issues and an interest in listening and learning.”
With 99% of the vote counted, Warnock leads Walker 49.6% to 48.3%, or by roughly 49,000 votes. NBC News has projected that neither will top the 50% required by state law to win on the first ballot. Georgia in 2020 held two Senate contests that went to runoffs, both of which were won by Democrats, including Warnock, giving the party razor-thin control. If neither party sweeps both Arizona and Nevada, a Georgia runoff would once again determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.
Fulks indicated Warnock will campaign on his vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, which imposed a $35-per-month cap on the cost of insulin for Medicare seniors, and his push to extend health insurance coverage to Georgia, which he has sought to do by expanding Medicaid to lower-income residents of the state.
And Fulks, labeling Warnock a “proven vote-getter,” noted that Walker underperformed Trump’s 2020 vote share in urban and suburban counties, which played a crucial role in enabling Democrats to win that year in the former Republican stronghold. The Atlanta metropolitan area, which makes up more than half the state’s population, has trended toward Democrats due to a mix of shifting demographics and white college graduates leaving the GOP.
While Warnock has matched or exceeded his own 2021 runoff margins in Atlanta-area counties, Walker has stayed in the race by expanding Republican margins in the conservative rural counties that are trended even further in the GOP’s direction.
Turnout will, again, be a challenge for both parties. Warnock is kicking off his campaigning for the runoff Thursday afternoon with an event in Atlanta, his campaign said. Fulks wrote in his memo that prior to the Nov. 8 election, the Warnock campaign’s field operation had “ramped up” with “more than 3.4 million conversations with voters on doors and via phone.”
Asked if President Joe Biden plans to help Warnock in the runoff, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said that’s up to the senator.
“We’re going to do whatever Sen. Warnock wants us to do in terms of events or fundraising. We’re going to deploy all kinds of resources down there. I feel very optimistic about that runoff. I think Sen. Warnock has done an incredible job. I think he’s got a great record to talk about,” Klain said Wednesday on MSNBC. “I think the comparison with Herschel Walker is just a stark comparison.”
While Walker is supported by Donald Trump, it is still unclear whether the former president will extend a hand to his longtime friend in the run-up to the Dec. 6 vote. Walker has, however, already secured some help from the anti-abortion group SBA Pro-Life America, which pledged Wednesday to spend at least $1 million to help the Republican candidate, who’s running on an anti-abortion platform.
In the 2020 cycle, Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler in a runoff, 51% to 49%.