Democrats have longed for the day when once ruby-red Georgia would be ready to transform into a diverse urban-suburban stronghold in their column.
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has made it a top target. Republicans and their allies have already reserved $30 million in ad spending to defend Sen. David Perdue (R) from a surprisingly strong challenge.
But the GOP fear of a perfect storm has always involved the second Georgia Senate race, an odd special election with five potentially strong contenders thrown together on the initial November ballot, including appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D).
A confluence of events has created a moment for Warnock’s campaign that, if he can seize it, could turn into a political disaster for Republicans and a boon for Democrats.ADADVERTISING
Warnock, as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, oversaw the nationally televised funeral of John Lewis, the congressman and civil rights icon whose stature brought three presidents to Warnock’s pulpit for eulogies.
His bid to become Georgia’s first Black senator had already begun to find its footing after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the ensuing protests. And Tuesday, as the WNBA launched its pandemic-delayed season, many players adorned “VOTE WARNOCK” warm-up shirts before games, including those on the Atlanta Dream.
That’s the team Loeffler owns, a protest to the senator’s public opposition to basketball players embracing the Black Lives Matter movement.
Now Warnock gets to test something he highlighted when he launched his long-shot campaign on Jan. 30, touting his rise from one of 12 children growing up in the Savannah projects to running the church the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. used as his civil rights platform.AD
“Whatever it is, be ready,” he said, quoting his father in his campaign launch video. “I think Georgia is ready.”
In the 72 hours following the WNBA protest, Warnock’s campaign collected almost $240,000 along with 4,000 new donors, his campaign aides announced.
The question will be whether Georgia is, indeed, ready to vote Democratic again and whether Warnock is the candidate to meet that moment.
Republicans privately acknowledge they are not focused on Warnock’s candidacy. That’s because they think he has not lived up to his original billing, and they’re furiously defending so many other seats in November. Once that dust settles, Republicans expect an enormous amount of money will pour into Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoff — particularly if this race decides which party holds the majority.