Warnock, Walker pivot to overtime in Georgia Senate contest

Nov 10, 2022, 12:49 AM | Updated: Nov 11, 2022, 9:15 am
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, ...

Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock before a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during an election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Atlanta. Walker is running against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
            
              FILE - Herschel Walker, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate for Georgia, is shown in this file photograph speaking at a primary watch party on May 23, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Akili-Casundria Ramsess, File)
            
              FILE - U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speaks a campaign event in Clarkston, Ga., on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. At right is U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga. Herschel Walker and Sen. Warnock meet Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Georgia’s Senate contest that could help determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. More than 2.5 million Georgia voters have already cast ballots, about a 20% increase over advanced voting in 2018. (AP Photo/Bob Andres, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker pivoted to a decisive extra round of their Senate race Thursday with blistering attacks, while party leaders and donors around the country geared up for a four-week campaign blitz that could determine control of the chamber for the next two years.

With votes still being counted in Senate contests in Arizona and Nevada, the single Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia could either decide majority control — as did the state’s twin runoffs in 2021 — or further pad one party’s advantage. But neither Republicans nor Democrats were waiting for the Western states’ results to begin scrambling for big money.

The Democrats’ Senate campaign arm announced early plans for a $7 million investment in field operations, a sum certain to be dwarfed by what both parties’ various committees will eventually spend on the airwaves. Top Republicans in Washington began huddling with donors, urging their continued support after the party nationwide fell short of expectations in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Walker, sent out fundraising pitches based on the runoff. The White House offered assurances that President Joe Biden would do whatever was best to to help Warnock — even if that means keeping his distance.

Warnock sidestepped the national implications Thursday, going directly at Walker and characterizing the former football star as unqualified and unfit for the office.

“This race is about competence, and it’s about character,” Warnock said in his first public appearance since his election night party. He went on to detail Walker’s exaggerations of his business and professional achievements and allegations of violence against women, including Walker’s first wife. And he called Walker, who is making his first bid for public office, “manifestly uninformed” on public policy.

“The choice between me and Herschel Walker is clear,” Warnock said. “Some things in life are complicated. This ain’t one of them. This is not a math test.”

Later Thursday, Walker delighted hundreds of supporters in Canton, Georgia, with a stem-winding evisceration of Warnock, accusing the incumbent of stoking racism (both Warnock and Walker are Black), driving up crime, depressing police morale, hating the military and misrepresenting the Bible.

Through much of the fall, Walker was the more likely of the two men to make searing personal attacks himself rather than leave it to paid advertising. But his speech Thursday marked an escalation.

“He is a hypocrite … a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Walker said, mocking the “smooth” and “slick” senator who is also the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. “Whenever he start feelin’ guilty he start bringing ‘the reverend’ into the situation.”

Building on his long-running effort to caricature Warnock as a yes-man for Biden, Walker declared that the senator should “get off his knees, begging … and start representing Georgia the right way.”

Warnock’s indictment of Walker, meanwhile, stands in contrast to the more muted arguments the senator offered for much of the fall, when he focused on his own record in Washington, especially deals with Republicans on infrastructure and provisions in Democratic bills to cap insulin and other drug costs for Medicare recipients.

Both approaches, his advisers say, are aimed at independents and moderate Republicans who are critical in a state that, until recently, was dominated by the GOP at all levels of government.

Tuesday’s election results appeared to validate Warnock’s strategy and show Walker’s vulnerability after sustained scrutiny of his past, including allegations from two former girlfriends that he encouraged and paid for their abortions despite calling for a national ban on the procedure as a political candidate.

Warnock led Walker by about 35,000 votes out of more than 3.9 million cast but failed to clear the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

More critically for Walker, he ran well behind nearly every other GOP nominee for statewide office, including Gov. Brian Kemp, who got about 200,000 more votes on his way to winning a second term. Walker’s vote shares trailed Trump’s 2020 marks across the state, in rural areas, suburban counties and metro centers — and Trump still lost the state to Biden by a razor-thin margin.

Republicans have acknowledged Walker’s flaws throughout the campaign but have argued Warnock remains vulnerable because of broad voter dissatisfaction with generally high inflation and the direction of the country under Democratic control of the White House and Capitol Hill.

Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor, called Walker “damaged goods,” saying the contest has to be about who’s running Washington, not just a Georgia senator. “You are voting for Chuck Schumer or Mitch McConnell” to lead the Senate, Eberhart said.

Walker, who dismisses the focus on his past as “foolishness,” has fully embraced a nationalized attack on his opponent.

“Raphael Warnock represents Joe Biden, not the people of Georgia,” he says at every campaign stop.

Stephen Lawson, who is leading the 34N22 political action committee in support of Walker’s bid, said the same. “That’s still the message: Elect a check on Joe Biden,” said Lawson, whose PAC features Walker’s jersey number as a running back for the University of Georgia and later pro football.

Lawson said his PAC will focus on three pools of voters: the GOP base that stuck with Walker, the 200,000 Kemp voters who didn’t and the 350,000 voters who backed Trump two years ago but didn’t return to the polls for the January 2021 runoffs that Democrats won. The anti-Biden message, he said, can reach all three groups.

Warnock, for his part, tacitly acknowledges that his party affiliation may be his biggest liability, even as Democrats exceeded expectations Tuesday by winning enough to potentially hold their Senate majority and limit Republicans to a slim House majority, at best.

From the start of his campaign, Warnock has distanced himself from Biden, at least in his campaign speeches and television advertising. The senator alludes to his 2021 runoff victory alongside fellow Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff and links it to Democratic accomplishments, from the COVID-19 pandemic relief package to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest judicial body.

Biden’s approval ratings nationally hover in the low 40s and are even lower in Georgia. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said it was up to Warnock to decide what is best for his campaign.

“The president will do whatever is helpful to Sen. Warnock, whether that’s campaigning with him, whether that’s raising money,” she said Thursday on CNN. “Whatever Sen. Warnock would like, the president will do.”

But regardless of either candidate’s difficulty navigating his liabilities, one thing is certain: A full-scale national fight is underway.

“There’s going to be plenty of money,” said Eberhart. “It’s the only game in town, so everyone will still be there.”

This version of the story corrects that Warnock led Walker by about 35,000 votes.

___

Associated Press writer Brian Slodysko in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, standing at rear, speaks during a censure motion a...
Associated Press

Australian Parliament censures former prime minister

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday listed his achievements in government including standing up to a “bullying” China as he unsuccessfully argued against being censured by the Parliament for secretly amassing multiple ministerial powers. The center-left Labor Party government introduced to the House of Representatives a rare censure motion […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Colombia asks for legal status for its people already in US

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia wants the Biden administration to grant temporary legal status to its citizens now living in the United States, noting its own efforts to address regional migration by hosting 2 million Venezuelans who fled their homes. Gustavo Petro, who was elected Colombia’s first leftist president in June, is committed to the […]
20 hours ago
FILE - A woman, center, leaves to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office at Ulsan Jungbu po...
Associated Press

Bodies-in-suitcases suspect appears in New Zealand court

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A woman who was extradited from South Korea this week after the bodies of her two children were found in abandoned suitcases made her first court appearance in New Zealand on Wednesday. The 42-year-old woman has been charged with two counts of murder. She was not required to enter a […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

MLB sells share of BAMTech to Walt Disney Co. for $900M

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has sold its remaining share of a streaming service technology company to the Walt Disney Co. for $900 million. The sale was disclosed Tuesday in Walt Disney Co.’s annual filing report through the SEC. MLB received the $900 million in exchange for the 15% stake it still had […]
20 hours ago
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, left, walks in front of a memorial set up outside Club Q in Colorado Spr...
Associated Press

Colorado governor visits shooting site as community heals

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — In a crowded brewery, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis embraced Richard Fierro, the veteran hailed as a hero after tackling a shooter who killed five people and injured 17 others at the LGBTQ enclave Club Q last week. There was a festive atmosphere Tuesday at Atrevida Beer, owned by Fierro, where […]
20 hours ago
FILE - An SUV rests inside an Apple store behind a large hole in the glass front of the store on No...
Associated Press

Lawsuits claim negligence in Massachusetts Apple store crash

BOSTON (AP) — The family of a man who was badly hurt when an SUV crashed into an Apple store in Massachusetts, killing one person and injuring 20, sued the company, the driver and the property owners Tuesday in one of the first lawsuits filed over the crash. Matthew Timberger, of Falmouth, suffered broken bones […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Warnock, Walker pivot to overtime in Georgia Senate contest