Photos: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images
While most of the country is done with an election season in which Democrats beat expectations, one crucial race remains: the Senate runoff between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican Herschel Walker.
Driving the news: Early voting for the December 6 election will run until Friday in all 159 counties. The state has so far recorded high turnout for in-person early voting.
- Mail ballots must be received by Election Day according to state voting rules. The application deadline was Monday.
Why it matters: A 51-seat majority for Democrats would strengthen their ability to get court nominations through the Senate confirmation process — and ease the procedural burden of a 50-50 Senate. Both parties are excited about the additional seat and his six-year tenure.
- National groups continue to invest millions in the competition.
Context: Warnock and Democratic groups last week won a battle over the legality of early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Republican groups had appealed to try to block voting on the extra day – when more than 70,000 Georgians cast their ballots in nearly 30 districts.
- Almost 90,000 ballots cast on Sunday.
The Intrigue: While Walker’s campaign message has remained similar to that of the general election, he has a valuable new deputy in the runoff: Governor Brian Kemp. Kemp first ran alongside Walker in mid-November after winning re-election by nearly 8 points.
- While the two avoided each other in the general election, Kemp can be seen in campaign emails and two ads during the runoff for walkers. He also lent the former pro football star his get-out-the-vote infrastructure by funding $2 million from the Mitch McConnell-hosted Senate Leadership Fund.
In the meantime: Warnock has reached out directly to the estimated 200,000 Georgians who voted for both Democrats and Kemp in November. That’s far more than the 20,000 Georgians who split their tickets in the 2021 Senate runoff.
Flashback: Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, took office after the state’s two high-profile runoffs in January 2021, when he and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) flipped two Republican-held seats.
- He contested a 2020 special election for the two years remaining in the late Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)’s term against Kemp-appointed former Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
- The nationwide-watched runoff election in 2021 handed the Democrats a razor-thin majority in the Senate, giving the party full control of Congress for the first two years of President Biden’t’s term.
go deeper: Herschel Walker claims Texas home as primary residence