Warnock speaks at campaign event

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) speaks at a get out the vote event with members of the Teamsters at a UPS worksite in Atlanta, Georgia on December 5, 2022, the day before his runoff against Republican Herschel Walker. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On Election Day, Warnock Supporters Urge Georgians 'Don't Walk, Run to the Polls!'

"The stakes could not be higher," said Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Alexis McGill Johnson, who campaigned for the Democratic senator. "Freedom is on the ballot."

Leading up to Georgia's crucial runoff election on Tuesday, progressive advocates, groups, and lawmakers have reiterated the importance of stopping Republican Herschel Walker from ousting incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

"A Herschel Walker win would be a huge loss for Georgia's working people."

"Georgia! Have you made your plan to vote on Tuesday?!" Climate Power asked over the weekend. "No biggie... just, ya know, the future of our planet on the line."

Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Alexis McGill Johnson is among the national figures who have traveled to the Peach State in recent days to support the first-term senator.

"I joined civil rights and reproductive rights leaders in Georgia to help turn up and turn out the vote! And to remind voters that the stakes could not be higher now for both reproductive and voting rights," she said. "Freedom is on the ballot."

As actor and activist Rosario Dawson put it in a Monday night tweet: "Don't walk, run to the polls! Every vote counts!"

Aunna Dennis, executive director for Common Cause Georgia, recently noted that "these close races come down to 1% margins, and you could be the 1% that moves Georgia forward."

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said late Monday that "50 Democratic Senate seats is good, but 51 seats with Warnock in the Senate would be so much better."

If Georgia voters expand Democrats' majority in the Senate, the party would not need to reach a power-sharing agreement with Republicans and could more easily confirm President Joe Biden's judicial nominees--a top priority, especially given that the rest of its legislative agenda may be held up by a U.S. House that will soon be controlled by a splintered GOP.

While neither candidate in Georgia won a majority of votes last month, forcing the runoff, many election watchers now say Warnock has a narrow advantage, pointing to recent polling and the historic turnout for absentee and early in-person voting. More than 1.85 Georgians have already cast their ballots and the majority of them are registered Democrats.

"We saw record voter turnout during the early vote period," Warnock--who, along with Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), won a major runoff just last year--told a diverse crowd at a brewery in Atlanta on Monday. "But don't underestimate the opposition."

The New York Times on Tuesday highlighted five key factors that will help determine the outcome: Republicans' Election Day turnout; the weather; Black men; November's ticket splitters; and supporters of GOP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who was reelected last month.

As the Times summarized: "Mr. Walker has proved to be a deeply flawed candidate. Even before primary voters chose him in May, he had been accused of domestic violence and stalking by an ex-wife, an ex-girlfriend, and a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Since then, he has had to own up to children out of wedlock. His son Christian Walker has publicly accused him of neglect and violence. And two women have said that Mr. Walker, who calls himself a devoutly anti-abortion Christian, pressed them to have abortions."

The former professional football player has also faced criticism recently for claiming a tax break intended for permanent residents of Texas--a point that Warnock nodded to at the brewery Monday.

"My opponent was an amazing football player," said Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. "He was a great running back. Let's send him running back to Texas."

Warnock also held a Monday rally at Georgia Tech, where he was joined by Ossoff and U.S. Rep.-elect Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.)--who, at 25, is set to be the first member of Generation Z to join Congress.

As Common Dreamsreported in the wake of last month's midterms, members of Generation Z (ages 18-25) and Millennials (ages 26-40) played a key role in preventing the "red wave" that pollsters and pundits had predicted.

"Young people saved this election," Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said at the time. "That's why our leaders must invest in us."

Since the Georgia runoff was announced last month, Sunrise has campaigned hard for Warnock. According to the group, as of a Sunday phone bank shift with United We Dream Action, it has reached the goal of contacting the top 67% of high-priority voters under 35 years old.

"Young people know how to win elections," Sunrise electoral organizer Ezra Oliff-Lieberman said Monday. "And winning will only happen if Democrats are able to engage the young, Black, brown, and working-class people who are traditionally cast aside as 'nonvoters.' That's the work we're doing, and I'm confident it's going to pay off tomorrow."

"Young people across the country are showing up--not just to the polls, but at canvasses and phone banks to get out the vote," Oliff-Lieberman continued. "We are a force to be reckoned with because we know the stakes, and we're consistently hearing from young voters about the critical issues facing our generation. Each shift we're reminded of the importance for Democrats to keep running and delivering on these issues."

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