Walker and Warnock face off

Ronna McDaniel gets a challenger for RNC chair

GOP attorney Harmeet Dhillon announced Monday night that she is running to chair the Republican National Committee, presenting another direct challenge to its current chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel.

Dhillon, a committeewoman from California who leads the Republican National Lawyers Association, announced on Fox News that she is jumping into the race.

“Republicans are tired of losing and I think that we really need to radically reshape our leadership in order to win,” she said. “And we can’t keep running elections like we did in the 90s and the 2000s.”

Read more here.

Asian American voters could help decide the Senate runoff in Georgia, experts say

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who make up 4.7% of the state’s electorate, might provide the margin of victory in an election that’s expected to be a close call, and the country is taking notice.

The last few weeks have seen the formation of Georgia’s first AAPI Caucus, the appearance of campaign ads in Asian languages, and the descent of national celebrities and organizations on Georgia to help get out the Asian vote.

Asian voter turnout nearly doubled in Georgia between 2016 and 2020, AAPI Data reported last year, and those ballots amounted to more than the margin with which President Joe Biden won the state. Leading up to the Dec. 6 runoff, both parties are coveting their vote.

“Georgia is an extremely competitive state, and we have over 100,000 South Asians and 250,000 Asian Americans,” said Neil Makhija, executive director of the civic organization Indian American Impact. “We have been the margin in the past and we can easily be the margin again.” 

Read more here.

HBCU students in Georgia face an extra obstacle in voting

When Lauren Nicks, a senior at Spelman College in Atlanta, cast her vote in last month’s midterms, she did so in her home state of New York.

Nicks, a 21-year-old international studies major at the historically Black college, had been told months earlier by fellow students about a law that does not allow students from private colleges and universities in the state to use their school ID as identification to vote — a rule she believed would prevent her from casting a ballot in Georgia.

As a result, she wasn’t able to vote for her preferred candidate, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, in November, or in next week’s runoff election either.

Her confusion emanated from a 16-year-old provision in Georgia voting law in which only IDs from state schools, not private schools, are considered an acceptable form of voter ID.

It’s a provision that voting rights experts say continues to confuse voters — especially college students or others who already face barriers — and results in many of them voting elsewhere or not at all. Furthermore, they argue it has a disproportionate impact on student voters of color, because seven out of 10 of Georgia’s historically Black colleges and universities are private institutions.

Read more here.

Canvassers encourage people to vote during the Senate runoff election

Members of Georgia Stand-Up and We Vote encourage people to vote in Georgia's runoff election
Steve Schaefer / Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

GOP strategist critiques Walker: ‘A formulaic campaign for a candidate who doesn’t fit the formula’

A Georgia-based Republican strategist criticized Herschel Walker’s campaign on the eve of the runoff election, arguing that he has missed an opportunity to reach independent voters who could make or break his prospects.

“What we’ve seen is a formulaic campaign for a candidate who doesn’t fit the formula,” the strategist said on Monday, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the GOP nominee prior to the election.

“If you’d have called me 10 days ago, asked me what are you looking for Walker to do differently, what could he do to change the dynamic — I would tell you: He needs to get off his bus and walk Main Street and walk shopping centers. And get rid of all of the entourage and go back to talking to people, one on one, and be a community guy.”

Walker lost independent voters by 11 points to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in the general election, according to NBC News exit polls.

“That’s how you get those swing and independent voters — you connect with them personally, you look them in the eye and you shake their hand,” the strategist said. “It makes a difference connecting to those swing voters.”

Image: Herschel Walker Campaigns On Runoff Election Day In Georgia
Herschel Walker poses with patrons at a diner Tuesday in Marietta, Ga.Alex Wong / Getty Images

Democrats maintain massive ad spending edge in Georgia Senate runoff

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The GOP cavalry never really showed up for Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate runoff — or if it did, it was with far fewer horses than we saw in November’s general election. 

Overall in this runoff, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Democratic allies have outspent Walker and Republican outside groups over the airwaves by more than a 2-to-1 margin, $52.5 million to $25 million, according to ad-spending data from AdImpact from Nov. 9 to Dec. 5.  

And just looking at the campaigns, which get the biggest bang per advertising buck, it’s Warnock at $25.2 million, versus Walker at $10.1 million.

Read more here.

Voters line up outside of a polling site before it opens

Voters in suburban Atlanta line up at a polling location
Alex Sanz / AP

Warnock says runoff against Walker is about ‘right vs. wrong’

Democratic Sen. Warnock said the runoff election against Republican challenger Walker isn’t about “Republican versus Democrat” or “right versus left,” but about “right versus wrong,” and criticized Walker for pushing false claims about his background in an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid in Atlanta.

Walker is “unprepared” and “unqualified,” Warnock said.

“I do think it’s disgraceful for someone who’s running for public office to be unwilling to tell us the truth about the basic facts of their life, telling us lies that are easily disputable,” Warnock said. “Like we all know that Herschel Walker is not a police officer.”

“He wears his lies as a bad of honor, literally,” he added, referring to Walker flashing a badge during a debate and falsely claiming he worked in law enforcement.

Warnock was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2020, and this year’s race will determine who holds the seat for the next six years. Neither candidate met the 50% vote threshold required to win the ballot outright in the November general election.

Both candidates have barnstormed the state to mobilize voters, with Warnock and his Democratic allies having outspent Republicans since the Nov. 8 general election. The battleground state set new records for early voting again ahead of the runoff, with more than 1.85 million Georgians having voted early, according to the office of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Key red-to-blue county to watch in Georgia: Henry County

Henry County has personified Georgia’s red-to-blue transformation and is once again key to Democrats’ hopes of victory Tuesday in the Senate runoff.

The county is just south of Atlanta — demographic changes, suburban shifts and new transplants attracted to the growing economy have made it bluer.

In presidential elections, Henry County has seen a remarkable 56-point shift from Republicans to Democrats over the last two decades:

  • 2000: Bush wins by 36
  • 2004: Bush wins by 34
  • 2008: McCain wins by 8
  • 2012: Romney wins by 3
  • 2016: Clinton wins by 4
  • 2020: Biden wins by 20

And in Senate races, Republican David Perdue lost Henry County by less than 1 point in his winning 2014 campaign. Then he lost it by 25 points in the post-2020 runoff, contributing to his defeat to Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga.

In 2020, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., won Henry County by a similar 25 points in his successful special election bid against GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

In the 2022 general election, Warnock grew his advantage in Henry County, winning it by just over 31 points. Statewide, he ended nearly 1 point ahead of Republican rival Herschel Walker, forcing the runoff Tuesday.

As Senate runoff nears, Herschel Walker’s ex-girlfriend details abuse

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As the U.S. Senate runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock and football legend Herschel Walker reaches its final hours, an ex-girlfriend of Walker is sharing details of what she says is his abusive behavior toward her.

Cheryl Parsa, 61, told NBC News on Sunday that she was in a five-year relationship with Walker in the 2000s. During an argument in 2005, she said, Walker pressed her head against a wall, grabbed her throat, and cocked his fist to throw a punch that missed and struck that wall.

Read more here.

Georgia Senate runoff smashes early voting records — and attracts new voters

ATLANTA — Georgia has set new records for early voting again as the two Senate candidates blitz the state ahead of Tuesday’s runoff election. And the contest is drawing new voters, too.

More than 1.85 million Georgians have voted early, according to the office of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, breaking two single-day records in about a week.

Among those who have already turned out, 56% are women and 44% men. White voters made up 55% of early voters, 32% are Black, and Latinos and Asian Americans each accounted for less than 2% of the total.

Gabriel Sterling, a top aide to the secretary of state, said the early vote total is expected to top 1.9 million as absentee ballots arrive.

Read more here.

Georgia Senate runoff tests the staying power of abortion in American elections

The high-stakes Senate runoff in Georgia will be the first major test of abortion politics since the midterm elections, when a backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision galvanized proponents of abortion rights and boosted Democrats.

Abortion was a major issue on Election Day in Georgia, when Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock finished about 1 point ahead of Republican rival Herschel Walker, though narrowly missing the 50% he needed to win outright. The 26% of Georgians who ranked abortion as their top issue backed Warnock by a margin of 77% to 21%, NBC News exit polls showed.

Now, Democrats see an opening to weaponize it to finish the job against Walker in the runoff, when a victory would give their party a 51st Senate seat.

Read more here.

Warnock gains early voting edge as both candidates barnstorm Georgia in final day before Senate runoff

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has built up an advantage in Georgia’s record-breaking early vote, putting Republican Herschel Walker in a position in which he’ll need to deliver big on Election Day to win in Tuesday’s Senate runoff.

Georgians have been bombarded with television ads, radio messages, direct mail and ceaseless fundraising appeals in the closely watched Senate race. Many of them are ready for it to be over.

“It’s been very, very exhausting,” said Ana Gomez, a sophomore at Georgia Tech who attended Warnock’s rally on campus Monday.

Over the long and grueling campaign, the two candidates have employed different strategies, with Warnock putting a premium on appeals to moderates and independents as Walker seeks to energize the Republican base in this former GOP stronghold.

Read more here.

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