By Brett Wilkins / Common Dreams
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock was declared the winner Tuesday night in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff race against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, giving the incumbent’s party a 51-49 advantage in the upper chamber and helping to temper the obstructionist power of the GOP and right-wing Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The Associated Press, NBC News, Decision Desk HQ, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other outlets projected a Warnock victory as tallied ballots from heavily Democratic metro Atlanta gave the incumbent a late surge of support over Walker, an ex-National Football League star backed by former President Donald Trump.
“I have no doubt that Warnock will win. But 1.5 million people voting for Walker speaks volumes about the work that lies ahead,” former NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill tweeted. “Buckle up, folks.”
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“Tonight, the people—young, Black, Brown, and working people—expanded the Senate majority, neutralized the power of Joe Manchin, and defeated yet another fascist,” the youth-led climate group Sunrise Movement tweeted.
Sunrise executive director Varshini Prakash said in a statement:
The truth is, young people win. Warnock’s strategy of investing heavily in young voters paid off because we organize, we get out the vote and we consistently vote for Democrats who speak to the issues we face everyday. We know the stakes, from the climate crisis to getting guns out of schools…
This race was dangerously close because of the right’s local organizing power. That’s why we’re standing up and fighting back. We’re focusing the power of our winning movement on building long-term power from the ground up in communities across the country. We won’t let up until we win a Green New Deal.
Progressive economist and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich congratulated Warnock, “the people of Georgia, and everyone who cares about preserving and strengthening democracy.”
May Boeve, executive director of the climate group 350 Action, said in a statement that “the crucial senate majority secured by Warnock’s win will help key legislators implement real solutions and ensure that climate legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act protects our communities from further devastating climate impacts.”
“Warnock’s win also better protects climate champions’ ability to block new fossil fuel projects like Senator Manchin’s ‘Dirty Deal,’ which he continues to push,” Boeve added.
“With this final senate race now decided, the midterm results send a clear and decisive message: we can and must move forward the important work of advocating for more bold climate action. While a divided Congress poses some legislative challenges, voters have proven that climate is a priority for them, and we have a clear opportunity to organize for our people and the climate.”
The Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel noted in her congratulatory tweet that “Democrats can do a lot more with 51 Senate seats.”
Taking aim at Walker—a deeply troubled candidate with an admitted history of domestic violence, hypocritically pressuring multiple women to get abortions, and recently claiming permanent residency in Texas for a tax break—Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) tweeted that “national Republicans handpicked an unqualified and morally bankrupt caricature to run for Senate in Georgia because they thought his race would be enough to make him competitive with Black voters.”
“But we know when we’re being patronized,” Jones added. “Herschel Walker needed to be defeated.”