Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock defeated Republican and former NFL pro Herschel Walker in Tuesday’s runoff election, handing Democrats a 51-seat majority in the upper house of Congress.
It’s another discouraging loss for the Republicans, who headed into Election Day last month with hopes of flipping the Senate in a “red wave.” Democrats not only held the Senate but have expanded their majority by one seat.
Walker falls short
Warnock won with 51.4 percent of the vote share, compared to 48.6 percent for Walker. Neither candidate won 50 percent in November’s election, which led to a runoff under Georgia’s laws.
Both candidates were burdened with checkered pasts: Walker was accused of paying for girlfriends’ abortions, despite his public backing of a “heartbeat” abortion ban, while Warnock was scrutinized for his Scrooge-like, hypocritical treatment of poor tenants evicted from an apartment block run by his church.
The candidates sparred on abortion, with Warnock, a Baptist pastor, claiming that “God gives us a choice” to end life in the womb. Warnock was also on record saying America must “repent” for its “whiteness.” Despite comments like those, it was Walker who received the brunt of media scrutiny.
Warnock initially won a special election in a runoff in January 2021, defeating Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to replace the late Republican Johnny Isakson.
Dems jubilant as Republicans point fingers
Now, Warnock will serve a full six-year term. The White House crowed over the results, saying it gives Biden “breathing room” to pursue his radical, nation-destroying agenda.
Democrats have had narrow, 50-seat control of the Senate through the first two years of the Biden administration, with Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker. The expanded majority gives Biden a smoother path to confirm appointees, especially judges.
However, with Republicans gaining the House of Representatives, the legislative impact of Warnock’s victory may be limited.
While Democrats are feeling emboldened, the outcome has left Republicans pointing the finger over what went wrong.
Critics of Donald Trump, who have broadly interpreted the midterm election results as a repudiation of the former president, have said he is at fault for endorsing a flawed candidate, while others say party leaders like Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) failed to support Walker.
Criticism came from Walker’s own son Christian Walker, who said the Republicans unsuccessfully tried to play “identity politics” by choosing a candidate “mainly because he was the same skin color as his opponent.”
“A boring old Republican could have won,” Walker claimed.
Republicans had suffered a demoralizing loss on Election Night last month when Democrat John Fetterman overcame a debilitating stroke to deny victory to Republican Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania’s pivotal Senate race, handing Democrats a crucial pickup.
The Republicans went on to lose their biggest pickup opportunities in Arizona’s and Nevada’s Senate races before Tuesday night’s disappointment in Georgia.