Georgia U.S. Senate race likely headed for a Dec. 6 runoff 

By: - November 9, 2022 9:20 am
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, left, and Republican challenger Herschel Walker are likely headed for a December runoff.

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, left, and Republican challenger Herschel Walker are likely headed for a December runoff. (Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder)

ATLANTA – Georgia’s U.S. Senate race was too close to call early Wednesday morning, but both Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker expressed confidence in their chances.

“Herschel is ahead right now, and we feel very good about where we are,” said Ralph Reed, chairman of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition shortly after midnight. “We have a path, but we’re unlikely to have this result tonight.”

Reed told the crowd that the ballroom at the Omni Hotel in the Battery was only theirs until 12:45, and the crowd dispersed, disappointed but hopeful.

Warnock’s party continued until nearly 2 a.m., when the senator addressed the crowd of sleepy journalists and supporters.

“We’re not sure if this journey is over tonight, or if there’s still a little work yet to do, but here’s what we do know. We know that when they’re finished counting the votes from today’s election, that we’re going to have received more votes than my opponent,” he said.

As of 2 a.m., the Georgia Secretary of State’s website showed Warnock with 49.37% of the vote to Walker’s 48.57%, a difference of about 31,000 votes out of the nearly 3.9 million counted at that point.

If neither candidate passes the 50% threshold, the race will go to a Dec. 6 runoff.

It wouldn’t be a first for Warnock, who took office in 2021 following a narrow runoff victory against Republican Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp after Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson retired due to failing health. That victory earned him the right to serve the remainder of Isakson’s term.

Warnock and fellow Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff helped hand their party control of the Senate in that election, and again, the outcome of this race could help decide which party controls the chamber.

Walker’s challenge will be to convince skeptical Republicans who split their tickets to push him across the finish line. He underperformed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who bested Democrat Stacey Abrams by a greater margin than in 2018 in part due to Kemp and Warnock’s incumbency, and in part due to Walker’s flaws. As of 2 a.m., Walker had just over 200,000 fewer votes than Kemp.

Once a star running back, Walker entered the political arena thanks to his friend and one-time boss, former President Donald Trump.

His campaign has been beset by negative stories, including accusations of domestic violence, parental neglect, lies about his resume and allegations that he paid for two ex-girlfriends to have an abortion in the past in spite of being a staunch abortion opponent. Walker has acknowledged a history of mental illness and said he has moved beyond his past.

If there is a runoff, the tenor of the race will depend largely on the composition of the Senate after the dust clears in other states. As of 2 a.m. key races in several states remained undecided.

If the winner could shift the balance of power, the runoff will likely mean the parties will continue to spend vast amounts of money on the race, and Georgians can expect a heaping helping of political ads to go along with their Thanksgiving turkey.


This story was first published by Georgia Recorder, part of the States Newsroom network of news bureaus with the Louisiana Illuminator. It is supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: [email protected]. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

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Ross Williams
Ross Williams

Before joining the Georgia Recorder, Ross Williams covered local and state government for the Marietta Daily Journal.Williams' reporting took him from City Hall to homeless camps, from the offices of business executives to the living rooms of grieving parents. His work earned recognition from the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors and the Georgia Press Association, including beat reporting, business writing and non-deadline reporting. A native of Cobb County, Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Atlanta's Oglethorpe University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.