OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
One candidate in the U.S. Senate runoff race in Georgia next month has a substantial cash advantage as voters have already begun going to the polls.
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign has managed to rake in about three times what Trump-backed GOP challenger Herschel Walker has taken in, according to reports.
Warnock had more than $29 million in cash as of Nov. 16, having raised a 2022 midterms high of nearly $176 million, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Walker has just over $9.8 million cash on hand, having brought the highest-funded candidate to a runoff with less than $59 million, according to the FEC.
In the month from Oct. 20 to Nov. 16 alone, Warnock’s campaign raised $52 million to Walker’s under $21 million.
Warnock’s cash advantage, however, was not enough to put him over 50 percent on Election Day, however, which would have handed him a victory outright and avoided next month’s runoff.
“While the Senate will hold a Democrat majority no matter what, the stakes are still high as the election could spell the difference between a 50-50 Senate with the needed backing of a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris or a clear majority,” Newsmax reported separately, noting that early voting had already begun.
As for whom voters in Georgia prefer, a survey released last week found that Warnock has a small lead.
“An AARP poll released Tuesday surveying Georgia voters found that Warnock has a slight edge over Walker, 51% to 47%. Warnock holds a strong 24-point lead among voters 18 to 49 years of age, while Walker is up 9 percentage points among Georgia voters ages 50 and over,” Fox News reported.
“According to the poll, 51% of respondents have a favorable opinion of Warnock. Only 45% have a favorable opinion of Walker, while more of the voters surveyed, 49%, have an unfavorable opinion of the political newcomer. The survey revealed that Georgia voters are more fond of former President Donald Trump than current President Joe Biden. Only 43% of respondents approve of the job Biden is currently doing as president, while Trump received a 48% job approval rating for his time in the White House,” the report added.
Last week, Warnock’s campaign managed to win a legal victory that allowed voting to begin sooner rather than later.
According to Bloomberg News, the judge agreed to allow voting on the Saturday following Thanksgiving after Warnock and Democrats filed a last-minute lawsuit.
The judge’s ruling prevents Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger from attempting to keep polls closed that day instead.
“Attorneys for Warnock argued that Raffensperger was misreading the state’s new election law and asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cox to immediately enjoin the ban on voting on the only allowable Saturday before the election,” Bloomberg News reported.
Uzoma Nkwonta, an attorney representing the senator, argued, “Foreclosing voting opportunities has always been considered irreparable harm.”
That Warnock and the Democratic Party would sue over just one day of casting ballots underscores how much the 2021 GOP election overhaul has derailed early voting in Georgia’s runoff elections. Democrats say curtailing early voting is an attempt to reduce participation by Black Georgians.
Later in 2021, the GOP-controlled state Legislature trimmed the runoff period to just four weeks, which led to complaints by Democrats whose constituents tend to vote early. That meant that this year, Georgians could have had as little as five days to vote and no more than seven, if Warnock’s lawsuit was not successful.
That said, the Georgia Supreme Court, days later, upheld the lower court’s ruling, allowing early voting to proceed without further legal challenges.
Currently, Democrats hold a 51-49 seat majority in the upper chamber after doing exceedingly well during a midterm voting cycle that typically does not favor the party in the White House. If Walker were to pull of a victory, the chamber would again be 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker.
For his part, Walker is getting a big assist from a powerful figure in Georgia politics: Newly reelected Gov. Brian Kemp, who has been regularly campaigning on behalf of the beloved University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner.