Democrats need a Raphael Warnock victory in Georgia runoff to 'safeguard their gains': journalist
Although Republicans narrowly flipped the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms and will have a majority of around six seats in 2023 — possibly under the leadership of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California if he is chosen as House speaker — Democrats knew they would be keeping their U.S. Senate majority when Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was reelected in Nevada. And Democrats will slightly expand their Senate majority if incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeats Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff election in Georgia that is set for this Tuesday, December 6.
If Warnock prevails, Democrats will have a 51-49 majority in the Senate. If Walker wins, the Senate will have a 50-50 Democrat/Republican split, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the ability to cast a tie-breaking vote.
In an op-ed/essay published by the New York Times on December 5 — the day before the runoff — journalist Ross Barkan lays out some reasons why the outcome of Georgia’s runoff election is important to Democrats and why having 51 Senate seats instead of 50 would be better for them.
“Nearly two years ago,” Barkan explains, “Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won runoff elections in Georgia that allowed the new vice president, Kamala Harris, to be the Senate’s tiebreaking vote. Those victories were critical to unleashing a remarkable wave of legislation and spending. Without Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff, President Biden could not have made substantial investments in roads, bridges, public transportation and semiconductor chip manufacturing.”
Barkan continues, “He could not have permitted Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs…. Now, Mr. Warnock is locked in another runoff on December 6, this time against Herschel Walker, the former football star. The stakes feel lower for this one: Democrats are already guaranteed a Senate majority. And no matter the outcome in Georgia, Congress will be divided, with the House in the hands of Republicans. Yet the outcome of Mr. Warnock’s contest matters significantly, for Democrats and Republicans alike — but especially for Democrats. They need Mr. Warnock in power for at least two overriding reasons: to safeguard their gains in the judiciary and to bolster their national bench.”
With Republicans having a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2023 — albeit a small one — there is going to be a lot of legislative gridlock in the federal government. Even if a Democrat-sponsored bill manages to get enough Republican votes to pass in the House, it will still have the 60-vote demand of the filibuster to contend with in the Senate (except for matters that have a filibuster exception).
But legislation isn’t the only reason why having a 51-seat majority would be beneficial for Democrats in 2023. As Barkan points out, the Senate is where members of Congress vote to confirm or reject President Joe Biden’s nominees, whether they are nominees for his administration or nominees for the federal judiciary. If a seat becomes available on the U.S. Supreme Court in 2023 or 2024, it is the Senate, not the House, that would either confirm or reject a Biden nominee.
“Under President Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell was venerated — or denounced — for his efficient and cutthroat approach to ramming through Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court picks and confirming federal judges,” Barkan notes. “In four years, Mr. McConnell’s Senate majority confirmed three right-wing justices and 234 new judges overall, many of them youthful conservatives rubber-stamped by the Federalist Society. These Trump appointees can serve for the rest of their lives; it is plausible that some of them will still be remaking federal law 30 or 40 years from now. Most of these judges are avowed originalists, fiercely opposed to the ‘living Constitution’ school that dominates liberal jurisprudence and allowed for all sorts of social progress that is now being turned back."
Barkan continues, “The overturning of Roe v. Wade is the exemplar…. If Mr. Warnock wins, the Senate can move more rapidly and seek judges who are perhaps more progressive in their worldviews — the sort who could hit a snag if someone like Joe Manchin, the centrist from West Virginia, or Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is the deciding vote.”
Walker has faced one controversy after another in Georgia’s U.S. Senate race, from allegations of domestic violence to allegations that he encouraged at least two women he impregnated to have abortions even though he has run on a vehemently anti-abortion platform and favors banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Regardless, the race has been close. Although Warnock had more votes than Walker after the November 8 election, the race went to a runoff under Georgia election rules because Warnock’s lead was under 50 percent.
In an article published by Politico on November 5, journalists Brittany Gibson and Natalie Allison report that although Warnock appears to be a “slight favorite” in the race, a Walker victory is “not out of the question.” And Warnock is reminding voters that turnout is everything in an election.
The cliché that elections ultimately come to “turnout, turnout and more turnout” is heard a lot, but it’s accurate. In the end, polls showing a candidate ahead among “likely voters” don’t mean much unless those voters actually follow through on Election Day.
At a campaign event in East Athens, Georgia on Sunday night, December 4, Warnock told a crowd of mostly African-American supporters, “We had an incredible early vote period, but don’t spike the football before you get to the end zone. I need you to bring this one home.”
- 'Values don’t matter': Conservative slams evangelicals for sticking by Herschel Walker ›
- Evangelical fundamentalist Christians are sticking by Herschel Walker despite abortion allegations ›
- 'Bald-faced lies': Obama torches Herschel Walker in blistering campaign supporting Raphael Warnock ›